A strange law has been proposed in Alabama that would require chemical castration for sex offenders who have committed crimes against children. Representative Steve Hurst has proposed this bill before, but it didn’t get very far. The bill does not specify which crimes would require castration, but it does make the offender pay for the procedure.
Many states require similar procedures, but none quite this extreme. Some states require sex offenders to take medication to lower their testosterone levels. Some states offer physical castration (removing testicles) voluntarily. Some offenders are opting for it to get shorter prison sentences.
This is definitely a tough issue. Opponents say castration does not change the mental health of the offender. Many are arguing that it is “corporal punishment” against the Eighth Amendment. Some say that it is over-simplifying the issue. Castration does not cure the feelings that made them commit crimes in the first place. The desire for power and for releasing anger on victims doesn’t go away with the sex urges.
Instead of corporal punishment, there are other ways to try to stop the abuse of children. Psychological treatment of sex offenders could help stop the abuse. It can help people with these urges to open up about their issues and deal with them before they get to the point of hurting someone. Getting therapy can help them develop healthier ways to deal with these urges and live full, productive lives.
Everything the patient says to a therapist is confidential except when the patient is a danger to himself or others. Also, the therapist must report if there is known child abuse. The Association For The Treatment Of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) can help people find the treatment they need.
Yes, these people commit terrible crimes, but there are resources now to keep them from recidivism and even to prevent the abuse before it happens. And chopping off their testicles isn’t the answer.