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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