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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Castration considered as punishment for sex offenders

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Author Topic: Castration considered as punishment for sex offenders
Dzuunmod
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In the U.S. state of Oklahoma, it's looking likely that forms of castration will be adopted for punishment of some sex offenders.

The article only indicates that male sex offenders would be subject to this sort of punishment. It says that first-time offenders might get chemical castration (which simply reduces the level of testerone in males) and repeat offenders could be subject to surgical castration. Apparently, these sorts of punishments have been in place for quite sometime in some European countries. Maybe someone from one of those places could speak to us about it.

Personally, I oppose all physical punishment imposed by the government, especially those punishments which are permanent. I don't think this is a good step for the state to take...

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Celtic Daisy
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I think this is unbelievable. I honestly can't understand how people could think this is a suitable punishment for anything. I don't believe in any sort of cruel and/or unusual punishment and to me, it seems like this crosses a very big line.

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badly_behaved_badger
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Hey, I totally disagree with that kind of punishment. I mean, prevention is better than cure, right? So people need to look at the root of sex offenders' problems rather than just castrating them, and *hoping* that it works.

I do NOT think that having too much testosterone makes people into sex offenders, it's more to do with the sort of society these people have grown up in and what kind of abuse they have suffered as children!

It's a sad fact, but a lot of sex offenders were sexually abused themselves, so it just passes down the line. What authorities need to do is get these poor people into therapy! This is the ONLY way that people are going to stop commiting crimes.


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Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of a man's heart and the fall through the air of the wise, true friend called Piggy - Lord of the Flies


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Bobolink
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The problem with sex offenders is that they will eventually be released to the community. In Canada, the recividism rate is quite high. Psychological counselling seems to be ineffective. Short of having these people declared dangerous offenders and jailed for life (in Canada we don't even do this for murderers) what can we do with these people?

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[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 06-02-2002).]


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Heather
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The thing is, even if this were NOT completely inhumane, sexual abuse can be done with numerous means, tools and anatomy. Removing a penis does not remove possibilities of sexual abuse, period. The harm done by sexual abuse is not usually primarily physical: it is primarily emotional.

Honestly, it seems to me that if we're looking to "fix" sex offenders at all, we may be erring. I think it'd do us a lot more good to try and "fix" the culture which nurtures sexual abuse in terms of fostering a really screwed-up sexuality, sexual ethos (or in these cases, pathos), and the like. And not just in sexual abusers, either. In everyone.

Of course, that'd mean taking the blame off of indivuduals and accepting it culturally, and that very rarely happens, save in hindsight.

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Heather Corinna
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Dzuunmod
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I guess one's opinion on this could hinge at least partly on whether one thinks people rape for sexual pleasure, or for the power of it. If sex offences (which, of course, aren't limited to rape) are about sexual pleasure, then it could - could - be argued that in some cases, castration could be effective. If it's about power, however, then castration simply won't do.

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"...the airport's always almost empty this time of the year, so let's go play on a baggage carousel. Set our watches forward like we're just arriving here from a past we left in a place we knew too well."
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Heather
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Even if that were the case, Dzuun, considering the penis is not the only method of deriving that pleasure, what then? We going to start slicing off hands and mouths too? Or hey, since most sexual pleasure and response happens in the brain, why not just start lopping off heads?

Honestly, castration to "cure" sex offenses is akin to chopping off a thieves hands to "cure" robbery. People don't rob because of their hands, or even, for the most part, because they're faulty people or in need of fixing. People rob because of very complex social and economic and psychological issues.

The same goes triple for sex offenders (and is of course complicated further given the fact that what constitutes an "offense" is so braod anymore as to be meaingless, often lumping statuatory rape with forcible rape, etc.)

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Heather Corinna
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Confused boy
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I dont know what Europe is mentioned in that article but its certainly not the one I inhabit! I suppose its possible considering Europe is now almost everything west of Russia on this continent so that can include some fairly right wing Eastern states. Of course, that is probably the reason that Mr Shurden mentions "Europe" but no specific countries so what is technically a fact can appear nicer.

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Dzuunmod
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Here's the lowdown on castration in Europe: In the 20th century, at different times, the practice was in place in the Netherlands, Germany, Estonia, Iceland, Switzerland, and Scandinavia. All of those places discontinued the practice at one time or another. Recently, it was re-introduced in Germany, and introduced for the first time in the Czech Republic. It should be noted, however, that it isn't mandatory in those places - rather, it's a treatment for people who volunteer, in exchange for having other parts of their punishments reduced.

All of that information comes from this article.

And please don't misunderstand me, Miz Scarlet. I'm not advocating castration, far from it. Rather, I'm just trying to understand the minds of those who do. In some people's minds, it seems to me, male sexual pleasure is equated only with the penis. We here at Scarleteen know better, of course. For people who aren't so enlightened, I can understand (but not agree with) how this might seem the logical, if extremely simplistic, solution.

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"...the airport's always almost empty this time of the year, so let's go play on a baggage carousel. Set our watches forward like we're just arriving here from a past we left in a place we knew too well."
-The Weakerthans


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Confused boy
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It has value as a strong deterrent too but an emphasis on fear is hardly the best way to run a justice system.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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PixieDust
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you do know that there are such things as female sex offenders. What are they going to do to them?

Plus, I don't know how much this chemical form would reduce hormone levels, but isn't it like unsafe to have low amounts of hormones? I mean when women have low amounts, I know they have to take estrogen...which I heard causes cancer.

Ya ask me, it just doesn't seem safe.

Then again...them on the streets doesn't seem safe either.


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BruinDan
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Just as a side note, similar legislation was proposed in the state of California in 1994. The Democratic legislature passed a bill authorizing chemical castration as an "alternative sentence" for sex offenders, on a purely voluntary basis. There was another provision in the bill that would make the procedure mandatory for 3-time sex offenders, but that was removed in a last-minute compromise. The bill was rejected in 1995 by (Republican) Governor Pete Wilson and has been dead ever since. Periodically the state looks into reviving the law, but ends up taking no action...largely for the same reasons that have already been cited here.

My first job as a Police Cadet was registering sex offenders. There were women, there were men, there were people who identified as neither. Part of the registration process was maintaining a detailed list of the specific nature of their criminal acts...and many did not involve a penis at all. Most seemed to be outright cases where the perpetrator was looking to hold some sort of power over the victim. With that being the case, I really cannot see how chemical castration would work.

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Dzuunmod
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Good stuff over this way. The Oklahoma Governor vetoed this legislation.

Thumbs up from me!

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"...the airport's always almost empty this time of the year, so let's go play on a baggage carousel. Set our watches forward like we're just arriving here from a past we left in a place we knew too well."
-The Weakerthans


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zenslut
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Removing a penis does not remove possibilities of sexual abuse, period.

it's my understanding that castration doesn't involve removing the penis, but instead it is the removal of the testicals (since that's where testosterone is produced.)

not that i'm advocating castration for sex offenders because i think that that qualifies as "cruel and unusual punishment," but i'm wondering now if my understanding of what castration is is possibly incorrect...?


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la jaunty bohemian
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I actually wrote an ethics paper on the topic last winter... so here are some clips of what I wrote, along with information. [If you want citatition, just ask!]

About "sex offenders:"
A sex offender is someone who has:
“ by using force against that other person; or by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping; or attempts to do so, renders another person unconscious... or administers to another person... without the knowledge or permission of that person, a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance and... engages in a sexual act with that other person; or attempts to do so, [or] knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person who has not attained the age of 12 years” (United States Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 109A, section 2241).

Sexual contact entails “the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing... of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person” (US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 109A, section 2246).

About chemical castration, which is the method being considered:

Chemical castration is the control of the hormones of sex offenders in an attempt to decrease libido and therefore a repetition the crime in the future. Depo-Provera and Depo-Lupron are drugs most often prescribed to sex offenders. These drugs, used commercially as contraceptives for women, also contain “synthetic progestin that is classified pharmacologically as an antiandrogen. Antiandrogen inhibits the release of androgen, the so-called male hormone, from the testicles. Some progestinic hormone is normally present in the male body, but at a very low level. Increasing the level allows progestin to compete with androgen and to take over” (Money). This nulling of the influence of androgen is what causes Depo-Provera to be effective in controlling sexual behavior. “Androgen is a sexual activator. Progestin in the male is sexually inert. It therefore induces a period of sexual quiescence in which the sex drive is at rest... Typically, in the adult male, Depo-Provera reduces the blood level of testosterone to that of a normal prepubertal boy” (Money).

This does not, however, cause men to be unable of performing sexually. “Men using the drug can still obtain an erection, ejaculate and engage in sexual intercourse.” It does, however, “temporarily decreases penile erection and ejaculation and the production of sperm. In addition, the sexual accessory organs, the prostate and seminal vesicles, temporarily shrink” (Money).

Side effects of the drugs in male patients include increased drowsiness and weight gain, sometimes resulting in the growth of the breasts and/or an increased weight of 15-20 pounds. Taking Depo-Provera causes a health risk to those with existing diabetes, obesity and pulmonary disease; it has also been shown to cause tumors in both male and female recipients. (Clark (Zbytovsky & Zapletalek, 1979). Side effects in juveniles are more serious, including “fatigue, weight gain, hot and cold flashes, phlebitis, nausea, vomiting, headaches, sleep disturbances nightmares, hypoglycemia, and leg cramps (Clark (Gange (1981), Berlin).”

About effectiveness:
The effects are not permanent; changes attributed to the medication are “reversible upon cessation of treatment... within 7-10 days erectile and ejaculatory capacity begin to return, along with the subjective experience of more sexual drive” (Money). Also...

“[Depo-Provera] has been used successfully with only one type of sex offender, the paraphiliac, who demonstrates a pattern of sexual arousal, erection, and ejaculation that is accompanied by a distinctive fantasy or its achievement. While [Depo-Provera] has proven successful for some paraphiliacs, there is considerable scientific opinion that the drug is not likely to have any meaningful influence on three other types of sex offenders who come within the purview of the new statute: defendants who deny the perpetration of the offense; defendants who admit the perpetration of the offense, but who blame their behavior on non-sexual or non-personal forces, such as drugs, alcohol, or job stress; and defendants who are violent and appear to be prompted by non-sexual factors, such as anger, power, or violence” (Spalding)

About problems with the law:

Non-compliance, though, is the most worrisome concern.
“Under the new law [in Florida], submission to [Depo-Provera] treatment is a condition of probation for repeat sexual offenders, and can be a condition of probation for first-time offenders. Should a defendant decide to withdraw from the administration of [Depo-Provera], he will be guilty of a violation of probation. In sentencing a defendant for violation of probation, a judge may not impose a subsequent sentence that exceeds the sentence he or she might have originally imposed. Failure to comply with medical treatment is not a criminal act except as a violation of probation. Thus, double jeopardy prohibits the state from charging a defendant who withdraws from treatment with a crime other than violation of probation” (Spalding).

It is then possible for a criminal to refuse to continue treatment, making it possible for him to commit more sexual crimes, and the state would not be able to re-punish the criminal by commanding more treatment.

Phew.. what a mouthful! Anyway.. the main problems with the treatment are that it doesn't really lower the mental or emotional impulses to commit the crimes, it's difficult to apply on a large scale, and the actual written form of the law causes a whole host of conflicts with the constitution. [For a great article on the legal topics, see Larry Helm Spalding's article.]

Just some information!

[This message has been edited by la jaunty bohemian (edited 06-20-2002).]


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Sh!mmeR!ng*staR
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i think it's stupid.

penises aren't the only way one can rape or molest a person. there are also hands, fingers, and even household objects such as a fork or a baseball bat. (i've heard stories) furthermore, suggesting castration as punishment for sex offenders implies that all sex offenders are male, which is simply not the case!! i was molested by a cousin who was very female.

i also don't think castration is very humane. many sex offenders were molested or raped themselves, and their own actions stem from that. in my opinion, therapy would be a much better option.

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