Should Sex Offenders Be Castrated If It's Cheaper Than Treatment?


sex offender noticeA legislator in Virginia wants to castrate sex offenders after they serve their prison sentence because he says it will be more cost effective than detaining and treating them.

Now, before you squirm uncomfortably in your chair and think to yourself, "What the hell is wrong with people in Virginia?" consider this: Eight states already allow for castration for sexually violent predators. Most of these allow chemical castration, which reduces testosterone levels through medication. But in Texas and Louisiana, actual surgery is involved. *Squirm*

The lawmaker behind the push for castration, Sen. Emmett Hanger, reasons that castration will protect the public while saving the state about $24 million this year (currently it costs about $100,000 to detain and treat each sex offender under Virginia's civil commitment program).

It makes perfect sense to me ... And, while we're at it, maybe we should chop off the hands of people who steal stuff, too. After all, why should we discriminate?

Some experts are in favor of the idea, arguing that chemical castration -- when combined with therapy and other treatment alternatives -- is effective because it tackles the root of the problem psychologically versus simply rendering offenders physically unable to attack again. In fact, some experts even suggest that castration/therapy alternative may be even more effective than Virginia's costly civil commitment program.

But opponents -- like Mary Devoy, founder of Reform Sex Offender Laws of Virginia -- are calling the measure barbaric and oppressive:

When abuse and mutilation of a human being is presented as an acceptable alternative to responsible treatment and housing for those deemed as sexually violent predators, there exists a fault of reason.

Can't say that I fully disagree with her here -- will using physical violence to punish physical violence be effective in the long run? Plus, to me, the use of castration as punishment focuses too much on hormones and sex and not enough on other factors like power and control that are equally integral parts of sexual violence.

Do you think sex offenders should be castrated?


Image via kevinspencer/Flickr

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lovin... lovinangels

Last time I checked, a penis isn't required to molest someone. Personally, I think repeat violant offenders should get the death penalty.

Littl... LittleManMama

This is messed up. Isn't it common knowledge that sexual crimes are about power and control, not sex? I don't see how castrating someone would stop them from inappropriately touching someone else.

Pishyah Pishyah

Death penalty.  I'm on with that one.  And frankly, stealing isn't the same as sexually abusing a person.  Picture your BABY being raped and tell me that's the same as a theif.  It isn't.  Of course, I WANT to agree with castration because I'm a vindictive bitch, I guess, but I fear that they will turn to other forms of violence.  So, I say we just kill them. 

nonmember avatar Finding the 84%

Dear Mr. Hanger,

We commend you on your recent efforts to control sex offenders in your community. Without a doubt your city is safer. We believe more can be done. The FBI estimates that only 16% of all sex offenders have been caught and convicted. That means that in your community, 84% of the total actively offending sex offenders still prey on children.

It is imperative for the safety of your community's children and other vulnerable citizens that none of your elected or appointed leaders are part of the majority of sex offenders, those hiding in the shadows, not yet revealed.

We will be assembling a group of volunteer polygraph administrators specilizing in Sex Offender Polygraph Examinations to help us test community leaders to soundly comfort the residents that their leaders are qualified to create and enforce sex offender laws.

We are asking all elected and appointed officials if they would submit to a polygraph test to rule out the possibility that they are part of the 84%.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

I think we should cut off their tools even if it ISN'T cost effective - I for one would be happy to have my tax dollars funneled into the National Neuter Fund.  If done by a physician, it's not violent - violent would be to strap the offender down and hand a scapel to the victim or the victim spouse/parent/loved one (which I also don't think is a bad idea, though certainly not something a civilized society would do).  Then I'd like them put to death anyway, because like the prior poster said, they can just use something else to abuse their victims.  I don't care how someone came to be a sex offender - born that way, continuing a cycle of abuse, whatever - their 'responsible treatment and housing' falls waaaaaaay down on the list of priorities.


Sex offenders don't deserve oxygen. Yes, they should be castrated and imprisoned for life.

sofia... sofia0587

I think they should be castrated!!!!

Wisconsin Law Reform

So what's next? For those that steal cut off their hands? Those that speed in their cars cut off their feet? Exactly how is physically castering someone going to fix the real issue of the cycle of abuse?

nonmember avatar Anon

Why stop with castration? Lop all the man parts off. I am all for compassion but not for people who would do this kind of thing to others. OK, here's some compassion: consider using anaestesia for some of the less brutal criminals.

Just_... Just_Margaret

Seems a little barbaric, but there are societies that condone chopping off the hand of a theif.  Perhaps Sen. Hanger ought to look into relocating, perhaps to a country that endorses such punishments.

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