What if our nation where to take a true ?no tolerance? approach to sex offenders? What if the old adage ?the devil made me do it? was no longer an excuse, thrown out along with ?I could not help it? and ?I am sick, it?s not my fault?? Whether it is due to media exposure, new community outrage aimed at the offender rather than the victim OR that our nation is truly going to hell in a hand basket, we are bombarded on a daily basis with shocking stories of children being molested, their innocence stolen, their bodies violated. We hear it in a from an adult exposing themselves in seemingly innocent places like a park to others physically abusing a child to horrific stories of kidnap, rape and murder.
In our nation now offer a medical alternative for sexual predators, the option of chemical castration. In this paper I will explore the pros and cons of making this nationwide, non- voluntary, and required in order for a freed felon to submit to in order to remain free. I will explore the constitutional issues raised and will also apply a cost benefit analysis, after which I will apply Kantian theory regarding whether or no it would be moral, in my opinion, to enact such a law uniformly. The main issues regarding this subject is it constitutional? Do we have the right to exact such a price from an individual who has already served their sentence? Is chemical castration successful enough to warrant its? use.
Chemical castration is when the offender is injected intramuscularly with a hormone, known as DEPO-PROVERA, commonly used as a method of birth control for women, once every 1-3 months. The hormone is known to lower sex drive and when used in the more concentrated form, as would be used for these felons, it will reduce the urges that drive these men to commit their crimes. It is totally reversible [just discontinue injections] does not deprive the recipient of the ability or enjoyment of sexual encounters nor does it deprive them of the right to procreate.
Let us start with the side I am not particularly fond of, Amazingly enough, even though I found several sites on the Internet, the sites were not very strongly against the process. In the Faces Constitutional Challenge? article I found the most harsh opposition, and even there I was not in the least swayed. The first potential hurdle would be the Ex Post Facto laws. Any new laws regarding chemical castration could only apply to offenders subsequent to the passing of the statute in each state. Our prisons are already full of offenders who would not, could not be eligible, unless they were to do so voluntarily. The same article also finds problems in our Double Jeopardy laws, ?No one can receive multiple punishments for the same offense?. Once a man has served his term he cannot be dealt a second punishment of required medical treatment, although how this differs from court ordered parole is beyond me, this is also a condition for prison release. Finally this particular article points out our constitutional rights regarding ?proof of present dangerousness?. How does one prove that this person still poses a threat to society and children once treated? This is one point I can concede holds some merit. For a first time offender, to require a lifetime of hormone injections based of a presumption of recidivism can be unconstitutional, however, once you have a repeat offender I believe certain assumptions can now be made. For moral arguments I found it even more difficult to find opposition. One of the few articles, ?Sex Offender Treatment?, that labeled itself as ?con? posed the question, to warrant imposing this penalty on felons then gave statistics showing a success rate of 94.7% for heterosexuals, 86.4% for homosexuals and the lowest number of 73.5% for rapists. This study was done over a 17 year period involving 5000 offenders. The argument here is whether this is successful enough? I will cover these statistics further when I argue pro castration. Of course no constitutional and moral argument would be complete without the input of the American Civil Liberties Union, who, by no real surprise, do find that chemical castration is cruel and unusual punishment. A.C.L.U. compares chemical castration to the period in America when the mentally retarded and mentally ill were surgically sterilized to prevent procreation of a less than desirable trait and to prevent unwanted pregnancies for those who could not be responsible for birth control or those taken advantage of in facilities. The A.C.L.U. also claims that this method of control can not possibly work since the origin of the problem is not organic and also that unwilling subjugation does not make for success. In agreement with the A.C.L.U. is an article titled ?.
This article cites potential pitfalls for this method of treatment due to the fact that chemical castration does not address the underlying psychological defects and the need for therapy. This article views the problem as not a sexual drive but an anger and power issue, it goes on to state that to take an already embittered, volatile person and make him unwillingly submit to this treatment can only exacerbate a bad situation to a much more dangerous one. Finally stated as a cause to not use this method of treatment or punishment are the arguments regarding possible side effects which include breast growth, headaches, weight gain and a lowered sex drive Now for a reality check. First of all, my opinion; if this country does not do something to get our crime, in general, into check our nation will be doomed. Everyday the news is an assault of our senses to hear all of the heinous crimes that surround us particularly against our children. We must make our laws more stringent and demand a higher level of responsibility of our citizens. That is my soapbox statement, now for the facts to back up my opinion. According to the article ?Sex Offender Treatment?, their question was how successful is successful enough? In my opinion saving a fraction of the number they quote is more than enough to justify a requirement of treatment for repeat offenders. For 94.7% of treated heterosexuals to have no repeat offenses in 17 years is substantial. An article in the study in Germany compared 99 surgically castrated individuals and 35 non castrated individuals for 10 years after release. The recidivism rate for the castrated men was 3% compared to 46% non-castrated men. These are VERY substantial numbers and even though surgical castration is more severe the end results for chemical vs. surgical are very similar, and a very good argument can be made for the humanity of chemical castration. In a news article, ?Pro and Con: Is castration a Just Punishment for Sex Offenders? a recipient of the injections who had been a repeat offender stated he ? was finally happy now that the uncontrollable urges that drove him crazy were finally gone?. Yes, there are situations were this method will not work. It has been shown that the drug is not as effective for rapists or those who wish to hurt children in ways additional to their sexual urges. I also agree that to ignore the underlying problems and eliminate therapy would be an injustice but the statistics prove that there is significant results with the drugs and therapy can take years or even decades where as the drugs are effective within the first month of treatment. In some states prisoners have begged the states to chemically castrate them with the states actually refusing. In begged the state to give him the drug stating that he had molested some 200 children and would do it again if he was released. Johns Hopkins University found a recidivism rate of 65% for non-treated felons; this number fell below 15% with treatment. The numbers go on and on of amazing drops in the recidivism rates, none were inconclusive or minor changes. To the parents of the victims to be this is meaningful, life changing? Studies also show that there is a strong correlation between adult molesters and their own personal sexual abuse as children so this could also help to break a viscious cycle.
Onto the next argument, excessive or multiple punishment for one crime but as I stated earlier, we demand parole checks as a condition of release, they are not totally free once released so how different is this? This is not life altering for the recipients, for goodness sake, women use this drug for years as a form of birth control, not as a punishment! Once a repeat offender is tried and convicted and what of the rights of the innocent, their victims who will never be the same again, will be emotionally scarred for life and many even grow to repeat this offense to another innocent and so on and so on….
Finally, a major question would be cost vs. benefit. There are two ways to view this question; one would be vs. benefit to society and the other would be actual dollars and cents cost analysis. First issue would be constitutional rights, how far the government has a right to govern citizens vs. protecting innocent victims. Given the recidivism rate of this type of crime it seems to me in cases of repeat offenders it is our absolute duty to protect any new possible victims, how can the rights of these felons have more priority than societies right to be protected from them. Given the non-permanence of the solution and the fact that it would not be disfiguring along with the facts that it may in fact be helpful in enabling these men to live some semblance of a normal life I cannot see why so many states hesitate to make this part of legislation. , It costs anywhere from ten thousand to seventy seven thousand dollars, depending on the state, to house a prisoner, an average breaking down to forty four dollars per day per prisoner. The cost of this type of therapy would be an average of twenty-one dollars per day, a savings of over 50%. In some states the offender has to pay for his own injections. I am sure that there are those that can argue all of my points and can even come up with different statistics to support their own points. I had the unexpected opportunity to speak with an individual who has spent years working with sex offenders, he does not wish to be named here but maintains that the angle of castration is big business, the research and studies all spell big bucks for the researchers and that is why there is such a push for the question to continue BUT also maintains that since sex is such a small inconsequential result of sex offenses, that they are so borne of control and violence issues that a drug which works to suppress the libido will not make a significant difference in the true numbers. He also maintains that since sex offenders are so highly functional in general the studies would be difficult to prove, are they just better skilled at not getting caught? While this therapist says he has never worked within these studies or with anyone who has been castrated he is still very skeptical based on his years of experience working with these men. He certainly feels that if not coupled with psychotherapy the drugs can never be a cure all.
Last but not least, examining this issue based on theories I have learned, I can apply the Kantian and Mill approach that a person has rights until they effect the persons near them. Since these men have so overstepped their spheres of freedom and broken social contract to such a heinous extreme, I personally feel, they have forfeited their rights to freely, and without conditions, walk freely among society. I can also apply utilitarian theory; the ends DO justify the means. If even the smallest percentage of children are saved does that not justify putting these requirements upon their known predators? Plus we have the bonus for utilitarians, this treatment puts hope for the future of these tortured souls, it is more than simply exacting the ?pound of flesh? but is an attempt to rehabilitate. This even follows consequentialism, there are consequences to all actions, these men have to pay the consequences and take responsibility for their crimes. I can find no true bad consequences for society, even in the worst case scenario, the drug is not as effective as hoped, no one has been permanently mutilated or suffered any irreversible harm and considering the crimes committed there is valid cause to continue studies and implementation. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot use this as a Band-Aid and turn our heads. If the drug therapy does not work these men must be to prevent them from having a free for all under the misnomer of being ?cured.?
In conclusion, based on my limited research , I find the option of chemical castration with the caveat that it be coupled with therapy and monitoring a very viable solution to the dilemma the world faces of how to deal with these crimes in a fashion beneficial to both society and the offenders.