July 25, 2013 | Posted By Benita Zahn, MS

The law in the United States is clear that once a person has completed their prison sentence and parole they are free to go on and live their lives. The state does not have continued control over them. While some might argue that for sex offenders and regulations regarding where they may live impinges on this, that narrow issue is not the focus of this paper. I will argue that castration, chemical or physical, is antithetical to our society. 

The eighth amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Mutilation would be considered cruel and unusual punishment and castration clearly falls under that banner. It involves a surgical procedure to remove the testicles or in women, the removal of their ovaries. One need to look no further than to realize physical castration to control sexual predators should not be permitted.    

Now I turn to chemical castration, which is really a misnomer. Anti-androgen drugs, particularly Depo Provera, a birth control drug are used to suppress the sexual urge and then research finds, it’s effectiveness is mainly in men who are deemed paraphiliac, a subset of sexual deviants defined as a psychosexual disorder marked by sexual urges, fantasies, and behavior involving objects, suffering or humiliation, or children or other non-consenting partners. 

For this group the drug has been shown to be highly effective, but laws allowing the use of this drug, as noted in California, do not differentiate between these sexual offenders and other. Moreover, the drug is not effective in suppressing sexual urges in women. 

So we are faced with a situation where the punishment is far from perfect, unequal in effectiveness between the sexes and far reaching as the treatment can bring with it side effects including osteoporosis. 

On the other hand, aren’t we, as a society, entitled to be protected from sexual predators and shouldn’t society do all it can to insure that protection? One could answer with a resounding yes, given the heinous nature of sex crimes, particularly when they are inflicted on a child. But that same argument could be made that  we should be protected from all nature of criminals as they, too inflict lasting damage whether it be physical or emotional damage.

The fact is, beyond a death sentence, we do not inflict bodily harm on any other class of criminal. Nor do we impose a sentence on criminals that last well beyond their time served. To open the door to such extended punishment on one class of criminal opens the door to extending punishment on others. Perhaps we might deem the tax cheat a threat to our economic health. We could then find some course of extended punishment that would prohibit them from fully reentering society. 

I realize that sexual predators, particularly those who prey on children, pose a unique danger to society. But it behooves us as a humane society to find measures, other than mutilation or punishment beyond sentence, to protect our citizenry.

Find sources here, here, here, here, and here.

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