Chemical Castration in Argentina

Argentina has just approved chemical castration for convicted rapists in the Mendoza province. The treatment must be voluntary, and because it’s a medication administered for the duration of their consent to treatment, it’s not permanent.

In the feminist community in particular, the debate over whether or not chemical castration should even be an option is still ongoing, but my initial reaction was: does anybody think this is actually going to work?! According to the CNN piece I linked above, there are 11 convicted rapists who will be undergoing treatment with a reduced sentence. It seems the hope is that if it’s successful in this province, it will be adopted in other provinces as well. But if the jury’s still out of how effective this is, how long do they intend to wait to deem it a success?


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46 comments for “Chemical Castration in Argentina

  1. March 19, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I’m not sure about chemical castration simply because we know that rape is not about sex it is about power and therefore removing/reducing the desire to have sex will not necessarily mean that these men will stop wanting to harm women.

  2. March 19, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I think it’s a bad idea. Renee’s right; castration — temporary or not — isn’t necessarily going to take away the desire to hurt women. It’s just going to make the way they’re used to hurting women difficult. If they’re determined to hurt women they can still rape using something other than an erect penis or they can turn to other modes of violence.

  3. Renae
    March 19, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Is this chemical castration in the form of anti-androgen therapy? There are a few private practices in the US that utilize this treatment to prevent recidivism in sex offenders and it seems to be working. At least at the place where I’m interning, they have never had someone re-offend while taking their medication. Not all of these patients are rapists, but some are. While it is true that this type of treatment does not address the violence against women inherent in rape, it does virtually eliminate the patient’s testosterone levels, which I would imagine would make them less aggressive in general, in addition to keeping their sex drives suppressed.

  4. Renae
    March 19, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    P.S. the medication is almost always accompanied with group therapy, at least at the clinic I am referring to…The National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma http://www.fredberlin.com/

  5. Marilyn
    March 19, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I’m going to agree with Renee and kaninchenzero in saying that chemical castration doesn’t sound like a good idea, if for no other reason than that it will keep alive the idea that rape is about an uncontrolled sex drive. Rape is about violence and power.

  6. March 19, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I definitely agree with all of you about rape being about power. I was actually surprised that the CNN piece included a quote alluding to that very fact.

    I guess that’s why I’m wondering how much time is supposed to pass before people start viewing this as a failure or success…

  7. Bagelsan
    March 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    they have never had someone re-offend while taking their medication.

    Have they had anyone decide they would like to re-offend in the future, purposefully stop taking their medication, and then go rape somebody, do you know?

  8. March 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    I believe that this inhibits the effects of male hormones, like testosterone, that can be a trigger for aggression. Or, and I’m not a psychologist and freely admit this is speculation on my part, but I believe that while rape is primarily about power- it manifests as a sexual behavior, and castration also closes off this avenue and forces the individual to channel the aggression in another way.

    That said, I think there are two issues with chemical castration, making the presumption that it is effective to at least some extent. One is the question of whether the imposition of these measures as a condition of liberty or otherwise is life-long. I will not dispute that certain people are psychologically ill and unlikely to be able to exercise control over their impulses over the course of their lifetime, which raises a separate issue of whether the criminal justice system is the best institution to be making decisions about what we do with these people. However it has been established that rape is tragically common and that much of is not a case of serial rapists with no prior relationship with the victim. So we can establish that their is a significant population of rapists that are not necessarily pathological in the “classic” (i.e. stereotypical) sense. There are cases of people who do rape and are unlikely to ever rape again- either because of circumstances or because they stop believing rape myths.

    What we have created in this country, however, is a system that does not differentiate between various sex-offenders and relegates them to a social caste status below even that of other ex-convicts long after they’ve served the length of their sentence. In the hands of the system we have now, we cannot rely on the judicious use of such a measure. Which is why I support the ACLU’s efforts to restrict the practice.

    This brings me to the second major issue: Is it ever acceptable? I think that it can be if it is in fact voluntary and the patient (because whenever you administer drugs, you can’t be dealing with a criminal. You should be identifying the person as a patient. More on this in a second.) is well informed and can give informed consent. However prisons in this country are exceedingly violent places. While we do not officially sanction corporal punishment in this country, it is a part of prison life. Given the choice between chemical castration and the implicit threat of unexpected physical violence (IIRC, sex-offenders do not rank highly in prison hierarchies) then is it really a choice at all?

    However, I don’t think we should be taking it for granted that the criminal justice system is the best way to make decisions about what to do with these people. This goes back to seeing a chemical castration as dealing with a patient and not a criminal. Aren’t we implicitly saying, as a society, that these people are somehow physically or mentally incapable of restraining themselves? I don’t get the impression that people who are seen as being most in need of chemical castration are those who merely believe certain rape myths or have been poorly socially conditioned. While I do not advocate that they merely be allowed to roam freely and do what they will- are we really dealing with true criminals? If not, then isn’t use of the penal system a waste of effort since deterrence implies a level of self-control?

  9. Bushfire
    March 19, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Does chemical castration reduce men’s hatred toward women, sense of entitlement, learned sexism, and violent tendencies?

  10. March 19, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Considering that chemical castration reduces aggression along with sex drive, yes, it _IS_ likely to prevent rapists from offending by other means. I say, if the statistics show chemical castration to reduce recidivism, then we should do it, and all “Rape isn’t about sex!” dogma be damned.

  11. March 19, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    The treatment must be voluntary, and because it’s a medication administered for the duration of their consent to treatment, it’s not permanent.

    I’m not certain I would define “take this medication or you’ll spend X more years in prison” as a voluntary thing. It’s a similar bargain that was made – and is still made – to certain types of women during the height of eugenics. “Become permanently sterilized or spend the next X years in prison.”

    Is that really a choice?

  12. March 19, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    In theory, Antabuse should go a long way towards curing alcoholism. If you just take it every day, you won’t be physically able to enjoy the effects of alcohol as long as the drug is in your system. But the research shows that it’s of limited use because most patients won’t take the drug consistently. Those who are willing and able to take the drug every day also tend the ones who are resolved to change regardless.

    I bet you’ll have the same problem with voluntary chemical castration.

    You could “treat” thieves (or batterers) by giving them medication that made them too apathetic to steal (or hit). It would probably work as long as they kept taking the medicine, but chances are they wouldn’t keep taking a drug that robbed them of drive and energy. I suspect rapists would feel much the same way about voluntary chemical castration–especially given the side effects like lethargy and weight gain.

  13. Azalea
    March 20, 2010 at 7:08 am

    I’m against castration of any kind, what do they do to women who have raped? Those people who rape using hot curling irons, poles or other objects?

    Castration is a physical punishment and gets too close to the eye for an eye mantra.

  14. Marissa
    March 20, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Yeah this bothers me. Of course, as everyone has mentioned, rape isn’t _about_ some uncontrollable sexuality, and as long as we keep acting as if it is, we will never even bother to look to the real causes of sexual violence: power, control, misogyny, hierarchy, hegemony, etc. etc… I guess it’s just easier to perceive rapists in medical terms than in the actual social terms that would force us to actually look at our culture.

  15. Anonymouse
    March 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    It might make sense to look at how the justice system treats violent schizophrenic and psychotic felons. Can the court mandate them into treatment, compel them to take medicine to reduce violent psychotic tendencies?

  16. William
    March 20, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    At least at the place where I’m interning, they have never had someone re-offend while taking their medication. Not all of these patients are rapists, but some are.

    The problem with that, as I see, is that you’re not dealing with an especially trustworthy population. You’ve got sex offenders who have been mandated for treatment and who don’t really have confidentiality because their parole officers are being sent compliance letters. Committing a rape and being caught are two very different things and when you’re dealing with a population who likely has some significant antisocial (in the Axis II sense) portion I would question the honesty of self reports.

  17. William
    March 20, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Or, and I’m not a psychologist and freely admit this is speculation on my part, but I believe that while rape is primarily about power- it manifests as a sexual behavior, and castration also closes off this avenue and forces the individual to channel the aggression in another way.

    I am a psychologist and that really isn’t much of a stumbling block. If you want to look at rape as a compulsive sexual behavior you can compare it to what we know about compulsive drug abuse. An addict doesn’t generally have “a” drug, instead they have a hierarchy of drugs which they use when their drug of choice isn’t available. Take away a rapist’s penis and they’ll find some other way to express the misogyny and sadism that is at the core of rape. Theres a good chance it won’t even manifest as penetration. Sure, the urge will be channeled, but it will still be channeled in a way that satisfies rage and desire to hurt a woman. Theres an off chance that you’ll find the next great painter, but more likely you’ll end up with a mugger who keeps hitting his victims long after they’ve given up their purse.

  18. March 20, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    “Castration is a physical punishment and gets too close to the eye for an eye mantra.”

    I’d have no objection to castration of either variety, chemical or literal, if I believed it would work. I know that may be a terribly unpopular opinion to have in a liberal or feminist group, but I have no tolerance for rapists and I make no bones about that fact. The problem is that I have no belief that castration of either variety will have any real effect on a rapist. In fact, I’d even wager that the resentment of being castrated (whether chemical or otherwise) might make them more likely to rape.

    But castrating them isn’t necessarily about punishing them either. It’s about trying to find a way to -stop- them from being rapists without strapping them in an electric chair. And I am pretty adamantly against capital punishment, even though there are days that I wish I wasn’t.

  19. Marc W.
    March 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    This is rather disgusting. Why even let rapists live if you’re going to castrate them? Should we allow serial killers to live on with no arms and legs, then? Or terrorists live on if we pick apart their brains? The logical implications of this method has A Clockwork Orange written all over it. Rapists shouldn’t go unpunished, but that punishment shouldn’t include something that Josef Mengele or a some psychiatrist from the Middle Ages would propose. I don’t know how successful rehabilitation is, but really, brutal methods such as this should be a last resort.

  20. Bonn
    March 20, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I’ve never really bought the idea that all rape is 100% about power and never about sex at all. (I’ve had that very point argued to me, so I’m not constructing a strawman here.) If a rapist thinks that the root of his (let’s not pull out the “women do it too” when the number is comparatively infinitesimal) raping is more about sex than about power, then perhaps this would be of some benefit. If a guy really buys the “men can’t help it,” then this would be a way he can “help it.”

    For someone for whom rape is about violence, they would just find other implements. For someone for whom rape is about power, they would find other ways to dominate. But for someone for whom rape is a fetish, I could see this working. The guy who sits in the bushes with binoculars, jerking off, and then decides to escalate his behavior.

  21. March 20, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    “Why even let rapists live if you’re going to castrate them?”

    Yeah, because a man without his penis or his sex drive has no reason to live.

    “I don’t know how successful rehabilitation is,”

    Until you do know, perhaps you might not want to speculate on the proper method of dealing with rapists.

  22. March 20, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I see a lot of misconception about the term “chemical castration” in this thread. People are calling it “an eye for an eye” and comparing it to chopping off serial killers’ limbs. Just so we’re all clear on this: the process that is called “chemical castration” has nothing to do with castration. It basically just means making men take birth control like Depo Provera, which reduces libido and aggression. Men can still have sex and can even have children while “chemically castrated,” which shows how much of a misnomer the term is.

    And it’s generally very effective at keeping rapists from raping again as long as they don’t go off the treatment (I’m not aware of any studies that track whether “chemically castrated” men perform other acts of misogyny in lieu of rape). Personally, I’d much rather be chemically castrated than go to jail.

    I wrote about it here a few months ago, if you’re interested in learning more.

  23. Marc W.
    March 20, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Faith:

    Yeah, because a man without his penis or his sex drive has no reason to live.

    A rapist losing his sex drive is not the issue for me, it’s the act of cruelty against the rapist that is somehow just. You think castration is better than death, but it’s not. It’s just as disturbing because you’re responding to cruelty with cruelty. Isn’t society supposed to be better than that?

    Until you do know, perhaps you might not want to speculate on the proper method of dealing with rapists.

    So I can’t raise my doubts at all? No dialogue, then? A lot of doubt has been raised in this thread already, and I think from reading Lauren O’s helpful response, most of them (including mine) on the issue of chemical castration has been answered.

  24. Athenia
    March 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Would this treatment be open to any other agressor? Because if it reduces agression across the board, that might be useful.

  25. PrettyAmiable
    March 20, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Regardless, Marc, if the issue were surgical castration with the presupposition that it could not be reversed, you’re comparing losing your sex drive with losing arms and legs. I don’t see how that’s the same at all. Assuming the issue can be resolved or greatly mitigated by reducing testosterone flow (which is the contentious issue here and what’s really up for debate), why wouldn’t you? These people have a hand in deciding their punishment – it’s not being imposed on them. It’s like leaving it up to someone with depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, or any slew of illness whether or not they want to medicated. Mengel, in contrast, assuredly did NOT ask his victims’ permission to assume control over their bodily autonomy. Why does every internet conversation turn to the goddamned holocaust for comparison?? It’s offensive.

    The real question is whether this particular violence is best described as something akin to a mental illness for which they can get help to alter their behavior via medicine and therapy. Personally, treating it as such strikes me as another way to explain away the severity of what a rapist does. I completely believe that abnormal levels of hormones can cause people to be more violent and less inhibitive than they would be otherwise, but the onus is on the individual to get help BEFORE they rape someone – not after.

  26. Marc W.
    March 21, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Regardless, Marc, if the issue were surgical castration with the presupposition that it could not be reversed, you’re comparing losing your sex drive with losing arms and legs.

    No, I’m comparing losing a body part with losing other body parts. If you want to making lopping off genitals an acceptable form of punishment because they can be used to harm others, why not start doing the same for other criminals and whatever causes them to do their crimes? I don’t agree with any of that because it’s barbaric. I don’t know why me caring about a rapist’s sex drive was emphasized.

    Mengel, in contrast, assuredly did NOT ask his victims’ permission to assume control over their bodily autonomy. Why does every internet conversation turn to the goddamned holocaust for comparison?? It’s offensive.

    Sorry if my analogy was extreme, but it wasn’t one I was completely resting what I said on. The idea of punishing rape with castration sounded to me like something a psychiatric institution before the 20th century or some warped scientist would propose.

    In any case, I’m not going to push this particular issue anymore since it’s not even the issue the OP posted.

  27. William
    March 21, 2010 at 2:12 am

    For someone for whom rape is about power, they would find other ways to dominate. But for someone for whom rape is a fetish, I could see this working. The guy who sits in the bushes with binoculars, jerking off, and then decides to escalate his behavior.

    The problem with that, of course, is that sex is about more than an orgasm. If we were talking about a simple biological drive then masturbation or hiring a prostitute would satisfy whatever needs an individual might have. Fetishes don’t exist in a vacuum, they develop in the context of a person, their experience, and their culture. One of the reasons I’d argue that rape isn’t about sex is because sex is pretty easy to find in our society and rape is a high risk activity. If you’re going to go through the time, effort, and chance of getting caught (or beaten, maced, tazed, shot, what have you) then there is a gain beyond sexual release.

    Also, lets be clear, most rapists are not someone who started hiding in the bushes masturbating and graduated to rape. Most rapists aren’t strangers. When you invoke that image, especially in order to justify a specific social response to rape (one with repercussions I’m not sure most people would recognize) you’re effectively raising a straw man. You’re talking about a very rare, I’d argue almost theoretical, case. You’re talking about the exception, the margin, the comforting lie.

    Chemical castration is a bad idea precisely because the kinds of rapists it might suppress are rare enough that the practice is akin to airport security, creating the illusion of doing something while really just putting on security theater. We need to do something about rape in our society, but creating the illusion of safety is worse than doing nothing. Thats what chemical castration is. Its a knot of what-ifs and maybes designed to combat phantoms and fight motives which fit a narrative. I think its likely to make people less safe (“I couldn’t have raped her because I’ve been chemically castrated, officer, clearly she’s lying”).

  28. March 21, 2010 at 10:03 am

    “You think castration is better than death, but it’s not.”

    Yes, I do. I’ll take losing a body part to losing my life any day of the week. Regardless, the main emphasis on this thread is -chemical- castration not literal. I brought up physical castration because, yes, I would be comfortable with both forms of castration if I thought it would actually work. I don’t, however, so it really isn’t an issue. If you think that’s barbaric, so be it. You know what else is barbaric? Rape. I’m comfortable to a certain extent with responding to barbaric behavior with barbaric behavior if it will serve to prevent the first form of barbaric behavior. The problem is, of course, that it rarely does.

  29. PrettyAmiable
    March 21, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Castration – even if surgical – does not mean losing a body part – especially in today’s times. You don’t have to lop off testicles to make them ineffective. You DON’T lose a body part today – you literally lose your sex drive, some of your aggression, and the other hormonal issues that result from having testicles. Everyone is assuming that you’re equating losing your sex drive with losing an arm because everyone assumes that you have the ability to run a fucking Google search.

    Your analogy wasn’t extreme; it was inappropriate and disgusting.

  30. March 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Marc, and any others who are confused, as has already been pointed out, chemical castration isn’t the physical removal of the penis, testicles, or any other body part. It is simply a medication that inhibits sex drive. In fact, it stops working as soon as you stop taking the medication.

    That said, Marc, your line of reasoning here is inappropriate (and also a bit confusing). I’m not saying you can’t keep commenting, just please make sure you think before you post.

  31. Marc W.
    March 21, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    frau sally benz:

    That said, Marc, your line of reasoning here is inappropriate (and also a bit confusing). I’m not saying you can’t keep commenting, just please make sure you think before you post.

    I am no longer confused about what chemical castration is. Lauren O. already provided the information I needed to know what it truly was. My original objection was to both this and regular castration, but I don’t think I no longer object to “chemical castration” (which is a weird misnomer, as Lauren pointed out) but was nevertheless insisting on how I felt about regular castration. I do not feel sympathy for rapists, do not think rape should go unpunished and do not object to castration because rapists will no longer keep their sex drive, as if I’m secretly weeping for rapists more than their victims. Sheesh.

  32. March 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Marc, I’m not saying you’re secretly weeping for rapists, I’m merely pointing out that some of your comments were inappropriate. I would add that taking any discussion to a level of removing body parts brings up issues of ableism. For my part, I got the general sense of what you were trying to say, but I was bothered by the notion that removing any body part is worse than death. That’s why you got the reactions you got and that’s why I’m saying you should think through your comments.

  33. Mary
    March 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    People seem to be overlooking that this is VOLUNTARY. Correct me if I’m wrong, but “The treatment must be voluntary, and because it’s a medication administered for the duration of their consent to treatment, it’s not permanent.”

    If this is something that someone is choosing to do to themselves, to take a medication they are choosing to take. I’m not sure if I have a problem with it. Initially yes, it sounds horrible. But if this is something a previous sex offender is taking in order to be a better person and NOT hurt people…what is the issue?

  34. makomk
    March 21, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Of course, chemical castration of sex criminals is not a new thing, as those who’ve paid attention to UK history will know.

    PrettyAmiable: I seem to recall that some anti-androgens which are currently used for this purpose cause irreversable atrophy of the gonads together with life-long infertility.

  35. March 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    @Mary,

    If I give you the option: “Stay in prison and maybe get raped or beaten, or take this drug.”

    Is it really a just option? All things being equal it would be, but we know that in real life, all things are rarely equal.

  36. PrettyAmiable
    March 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Sure, and I would be concerned about that if I were under the impression that it was being forced onto the rapists in some way, but again, it’s voluntary. The same way I can choose to smoke cigarettes and I COULD get lung cancer – it’s my choice, and sometimes shit happens.

    The Chemist, what’s the presupposition for your choice? It sounds like you consider the potential rape and beating in prison to be the actual punishment rather than the prison-time. I think we should be clear that no one is advocating the rape of rapists. Regarding the men who have assaulted me, if I were to choose prison without rape and prison with rape for them, it would be without rape every time. Rape isn’t a punishment – it’s always a crime.

  37. March 21, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    If I give you the option: “Stay in prison and maybe get raped or beaten, or take this drug.”

    Is it really a just option?

    Isn’t giving rapists any non-prison option sort of a nice thing to do to them? If you’re implying that anyone would choose chemical castration over prison because it’s better than prison, then you can hardly argue that chemical castration is unfair to people who deserve to go to prison. They’re going to get punished/rehabilitated one way or another, as they should, because they’ve committed rape. Giving them a more lenient option hardly seems “unjust.”

  38. piny
    March 21, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I think this treatment needs to be considered in the context of the options we have, not the options we’d like. They’re rejecting prison terms that almost certainly carry the risk of violence and sexual violence, not simple confinement. I think it makes sense to acknowledge that, in the same way that we acknowledge the actual unwanted side effects of a medication–and the fact that this medication is not the same as a magic anti-sexual-violence pill.

    My reservations about this have to do with the invasive nature of coerced medication. I don’t like the idea that the justice system is forcing convicts to medicate themselves. That level of authority bothers me a great deal. I also don’t think it’s right to call it chosen when the alternative is years or decades in prison. On the other hand, I can’t argue that prison is free or more palatable, and I can’t argue that prison is more amenable to the kind of counseling sex offenders need; I can understand why someone might prefer medication.

  39. March 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    @PrettyAmiable

    This is my point- rape may not be an acceptable form of punishment- but it’s the reality of prisons in the United States, whether we want it to be or not. So giving people an “option” in light of this reality is no option at all- since it presumes that the punishment being applied is neither cruel nor unusual. I’m of course not saying that all imprisonment in the Unites States is unjust all of the time, but it can be enough of the time that the idea of “voluntary” would have to be flexible in order to meet the obligations set by it. Flexible definitions are dangerous in this context.

    @Lauren O

    What I’m getting from your comment is that rape is “just desserts”. I may have misunderstood, but I hope that’s not what you’re saying.

  40. March 21, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    What I’m getting from your comment is that rape is “just desserts”. I may have misunderstood, but I hope that’s not what you’re saying.

    No, I’m saying going to prison after committing rape is just deserts. I don’t see how letting rapists have something better than prison is forcing them to make an “unjust decision.”

  41. William
    March 21, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    My reservations about this have to do with the invasive nature of coerced medication.

    Aside from the concerns you’ve mentioned, I think one of the big concerns I have with this is what it says about rape. By offering a medical option in lieu of prison (or as a means of reducing a sentence) what we are essentially doing is medicalizing the problem of being a rapist. Chemical castration, despite all the complicated motives behind it, has the side effect of making rapists less morally culpable. By offering a chemical means of controlling “uncontrollable impulses” (or however we choose to label what is essentially a lack of humanity) what you’re saying is that part of the problem of rape is chemical, that it is a problem not with the person who committed the rape but with their body. Its making yet another excuse for rapists and feeding into the “he just couldn’t help himself” meme which has been used to excuse rape since time immemorial.

  42. piny
    March 21, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    The brain over the mind? I agree with that, too. I don’t have anything against medication per se; what I worry about is that this medication will take the place of the education and counseling that seem to be more effective. I know, though, that many chemical-castration initiatives have involved counseling as part of the treatment.

  43. March 22, 2010 at 9:50 am

    @Lauren O

    “Better than” is subjective and dependent on context. Perhaps it’s better than prison in the current realistic context to some, and perhaps it’s better than prison in an ideal context to all. “Better than” is a completely meaningless evaluation coming from someone who is presumably not in prison at all. Yes, it can be “better than” prison in a world where prisons are violent places, but since prisons are not supposed to be violent places in the first place, the decision isn’t necessarily a free one. Let’s analogize this:

    Let’s say you have to pay your power bill (this is your obligation- you’re debt). One way or another it’s coming out of your pocket. Now let’s say you’re given a choice, you can pay it all now- which is the conventional choice, or you can sign up for a program where you commit to using energy saving light-bulbs and get a reduced rate. As it stands, there’s nothing inequitable about this deal. It sounds great, but for a variety of reasons you may not want to take advantage of it. Regardless, it’s completely voluntary. However, let’s say that if you do refuse to sign up for this plan, you’re subject to random blackouts at any point in the month for limited durations. Is this “option” what people think of when the phrase “voluntary program” is used?

    These are still drugs, and they can and do have side-effects. Someone may prefer the 9 months left in prison to the potential side effects of the drug, but may be the subject of harassment and the risk of physical violence by another inmate for the next nine months. In this context, there is no “choice”. It’s a rock and a hard place. Either way the prisoner satisfies his debt to society, but we cannot pretend that “voluntary” always means what we think it means.

  44. leedevious
    March 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    The implication of chemical castration being worse than death is absurdly offensive. As a person without a sex drive (due to antidepressants) I can assure you that life is still very much worth ling.

  45. Mary
    March 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I most definitely see the point with “voluntary” getting a little iffy depending on how the situation truly plays out. And I most certainly do not agree with the use of chemical castration as a “way out” of prison. I also have MANY issues with the prison system and approach period, in all cases-but that’s a whole other subject.
    That being said, It seems to me that a more effective plan would be along the lines of rehab. Address the past and the mental processes involved as well as the chemical imbalances. Those who are deemed “insane” when committing horrendous crimes, are still confined but in an environment geared towards mental rehabilitation (granted these facilities also have a long way to go…yet another subject). The case/the individual determines the medicinal and therapeutic approach. Why should this not be the case for sex offenders?

  46. William
    March 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    That being said, It seems to me that a more effective plan would be along the lines of rehab. Address the past and the mental processes involved as well as the chemical imbalances.

    The problem with that line of thinking is that you simply cannot make someone who isn’t interested in therapy do therapy. You can make them show up, you can even compel their participation, but at the end of the day therapy which is attended because of the threat of violence (and make no mistake, that is all coercion can ever be) is useless. Completely, utterly, absolutely useless. Under such a scheme what you’re likely to see is a large number of individuals antisocial personality traits showing up to avoid whatever the alternative happens to be. The end result of that is a large number of people who probably shouldn’t be on the street saying “hey, I’ve been cured” and then going on to continue being who they already are.

    If you want to look at rapists as mentally ill (I have a pretty big problem with that as a starting point as is) then you’re talking about what is primarily a population with personality disorders. You’re talking about the kinds of people who are notoriously difficult to treat, the kinds of people who many psychologists simply won’t treat, the kinds of people for whom any hope of change is going to require years of intensive therapy that they are invested in. You can’t just reach into a person and make them good, you can’t take the hatred and violence out of a rapist with a few (dozen) hours of CBT and a shot of Depo in the ass. Thats just not the way people work.

    Those who are deemed “insane” when committing horrendous crimes,

    Its pretty rare for mad persons to commit crimes. Generally they’re the victims. The image of the dangerous madman is largely fictional. By equating rape with madness you’re maligning an entire population of people who have been shown nothing but the back of society’s hand for most of recorded human history. The constant demand our society has placed on clinicians to use what little understanding we have of the human psyche to help in coercion hurts mad persons. Thats what we’re talking about here. The cost of finding a pleasant way of dealing with people who enjoy raping other people is by further marginalizing and excluding those who we have already deemed mad.

    are still confined but in an environment geared towards mental rehabilitation

    Do you have any concept how creepy that sounds? Do you really like the idea of society having the power to deem someone mad and then to forcibly confine them until their thoughts become acceptable? Is the concept of someone being a bad person, as evidenced by being willing to severely harm another individual for their own gratification, so threatening that you’re willing to push the power to enact that horror show out to the state? Think about where the precedent would lead.

    Look at sex offender registries. Few people challenged them because, hey, theres no one less sympathetic than a child molester. Less then a generation later, however, and we have kids who sent a naked picture of themselves to their boyfriend getting labeled as sex offenders. A guy taking a leak in an alley gets on the same registry as a rapist. The system grows. Now there are discussions of registries for drug criminals, animal abusers, domestic abusers, and the precedent is already set. If you think somehow calling crime madness and then forcibly “rehabilitating” those charged with invasive procedures is going to be limited to rapists then I have some wonderful ocean front property in northern Utah to sell you.

    The case/the individual determines the medicinal and therapeutic approach. Why should this not be the case for sex offenders?

    Because sex offenders generally aren’t mentally ill and those handful that are generally didn’t offend because of their madness. Because patients self refer, they aren’t brought in at the barrel of a gun (with only a very few exceptions and then generally only for 72 hours). Because psychologists aren’t wardens. Because our role is that of healer not that of the bearer of the state’s coercive power. Because there really isn’t much in the way of compelling evidence that we could treat sex offenders even if compelled treatment was ethical.

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