Chemical castration is castration via drugs, whether to reduce libido and sexual activity, to treat cancer, or otherwise. Unlike surgical castration, where the gonads are removed through an incision in the body, chemical castration does not remove organs, nor is it a form of sterilization.
Chemical castration is generally considered reversible when treatment is discontinued, although permanent effects in body chemistry can sometimes be seen, as in the case of bone density loss increasing with length of use of DMPA.
Chemical castration involves the administration of antiandrogen drugs, such as cyproterone acetate or the birth-control drug DMPA, which is given as an injection every three months, making compliance easier to track.
The antipsychotic agent benperidol is sometimes used to diminish sexual urges in people who display inappropriate sexual behavior, and can likewise be given by depot injection. But benperidol does not affect testosterone and is therefore not a castration agent.
When used on men, these drugs can reduce sex drive, compulsive sexual fantasies, and capacity for sexual arousal. Life-threatening side effects are rare, but some users show increases in body fat and reduced bone density, which increase long-term risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. They may also experience gynecomastia (development of larger than normal mammary glands in males). When used on women, the effects are similar, though there isn't much (if any) research about chemically lowering women's sex drives, since most research focuses on the opposite, but anti-androgenic hormone regimens would lower testosterone in women which can impact sex drive or sexual response. These drugs also deflate the breast glands and expand the size of the nipple. Also seen is a sudden shrink in bone mass and discoloration of the lips, reduced body hair, and muscle mass.
Although chemical castration is presented as a humane alternative to lifelong imprisonment or surgical castration, the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the coerced administration of any drug, including antiandrogen drugs for sex offenders. They argue that forced chemical castration is a "cruel and unusual punishment", and therefore should be constitutionally prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. They also stated that it interferes with the right to procreate and could expose users to various health problems. Law professor John Stinneford has argued that chemical castration is a cruel and unusual punishment because it exerts control over the mind of sex offenders to render them incapable of sexual desire and subjects them to the physical changes caused by the female hormones used.
Some have argued that, based on the Fourteenth Amendment, the procedure fails to guarantee equal protection: although the laws mandating the treatment do so without respect to gender, the actual effect of the procedure disproportionately falls upon men. In the case of voluntary statutes, the ability to give informed consent is also an issue; in 1984, the U.S. state of Michigan's court of appeals held that mandating chemical castration as a condition of probation was unlawful on the grounds that the drug medroxyprogesterone acetate had not yet gained acceptance as being safe and reliable and also due to the difficulty of obtaining informed consent under these circumstances.
In 1981, in an experiment by P. Gagne, 48 males with long standing histories of sexually deviant behaviour were given medroxyprogesterone acetate for as long as 12 months. Forty of those subjects were recorded as to have diminished desires for deviant sexual behaviour, less frequent sexual fantasies, and greater control over sexual urges. The research recorded a continuation of this more positive behaviour after the administration of the drug had ended with no evidence of adverse side effects and recommended medroxyprogesterone acetate along with counselling as a successful method of treatment for serial sex offenders.
History and use by region
The first use of chemical castration occurred in 1944, when diethylstilbestrol was used with the purpose of lowering men's testosterone. Chemical castration is often seen as an easier alternative to life imprisonment or the death penalty because it allows the release of sex offenders while reducing or eliminating the chance that they reoffend.
In 1966, John Money became the first American to employ chemical castration by prescribing medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA, the base ingredient now used in DMPA) as a treatment for a patient dealing with pedophilic urges. The drug has thereafter become a mainstay of chemical castration in America. Despite its long history and established use, the drug has never been approved by the FDA for use as a treatment for sexual offenders.
California was the first U.S. state to specify the use of chemical castration as a punishment for child molestation, following the passage of a modification to Section 645 of the California penal code in 1996. This law stipulates that anyone convicted of child molestation with a minor under 13 years of age may be treated with DMPA if they are on parole after their second offense and that offenders may not reject the treatment.
The passage of this law led to similar laws in other states such as Florida's Statute Section 794.0235 which was passed into law in 1997. As in California, treatment is mandatory after a second offense.
At least seven other states, including Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin, have experimented with chemical castration. In Iowa, as in California and Florida, offenders may be sentenced to chemical castration in all cases involving serious sex offenses. On June 25, 2008, following the Supreme Court ruling in Kennedy v. Louisiana that the execution of child rapists where the victim was not killed was ruled unconstitutional, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed Senate Bill 144, allowing Louisiana judges to sentence convicted rapists to chemical castration.
In the United Kingdom, computer scientist Alan Turing, famous for his contributions to mathematics and computer science, was a homosexual who was forced to undergo chemical castration in order to avoid imprisonment in 1952. At the time, homosexual acts between males were still illegal and homosexuality was widely considered to be a mental illness that could be treated with chemical castration. Turing experienced side effects such as breast enlargement and bloating of the physique. He died two years later, with the inquest returning a verdict of suicide, although recent research has cast doubt on this result. In 2009, the then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a public apology for the "appalling" treatment of Turing after an online petition seeking the same gained 30,000 signatures and international recognition. He was given a posthumous Royal Pardon in December 2013.
In 2008, an experimental intervention program was launched in three Portuguese prisons: Carregueira (Belas, Sintra), Paços de Ferreira and Funchal. The program developers note the voluntary nature of the program a crucial factor in its success. They initially planned to cover ten inmates per prison, contemplating a possible enlargement to other prisons in the future. The program also included a rehabilitation component.
On September 25, 2009, Poland legislated forcible chemical castration of child molesters. This law came into effect on June 9, 2010; therefore in Poland "anyone guilty of raping a child under the age of 15 can now be forced to submit to chemical and psychological therapy to reduce sex drive at the end of a prison term".
On April 30, 2010, a man in the United Kingdom found guilty of attempting to murder a 60-year-old woman in order to abduct and rape her two granddaughters agreed to undergo chemical castration as part of the terms of his sentence.
In October and November 2013, the Macedonian authorities were working on developing a legal framework and standard procedure for implementation of chemical castration that would be used for convicted child molesters. The castration is intended to be voluntarily, where as for the child molesters that repeat the criminal act it should be mandatory.
After the outrage followed by a gang rape of a woman in Delhi, the Government has submitted a draft proposing chemical castration along with an imprisonment of up to 30 years for rape convicts as part of the anti-rape law in India. The ministry is preparing a detailed bill and the recommended changes are under review. Government is also planning to re-define the Juvenile Act and lower their age. One of the accused in the rape case is a juvenile and aged a few months less than 18 years. A view has been expressed by a section that only those below 15 years should be described as juvenile.
In 2010, a repeat child sex offender who had been subject to chemical castration was accused of inappropriately touching and kissing a young girl. He was found not guilty by a jury, which was not informed of the context of his previous offenses.
In New Zealand, the antilibidinal drug cyproterone acetate is sold under the name Androcur. In November 2000 convicted paedophile Robert Jason Dittmer attacked a victim while on the drug. In 2009 a study into the effectiveness of the drug by Dr David Wales for the Corrections Department found that no research had been conducted in New Zealand into the effectiveness and such trials were "ethically and practically very difficult to carry out."
In July 2011, South Korea enacted a law allowing judges the power to sentence sex offenders who have attacked children under the age of 16 to chemical castration. The law also allows for chemical castration to be ordered by a Ministry of Justice committee. On May 23, 2012, a repeat sexual offender known only as Park was ordered by the committee to undergo this treatment after his most recent attempted offense. On January 3, 2013, a South Korean court sentenced a 31-year-old man to 15 years in jail and chemical castration, the country's first ever chemical castration sentence.
In October 2011, the Russian parliament approved a law that allows a court-requested forensic psychiatrist to prescribe the chemical castration of convicted sex offenders who have harmed children under the age of 14.
- "Can Castration Be a Solution for Sex Offenders? Man Who Mutilated Himself in Jail Thinks So, but Debate on Its Effectiveness Continues in Va., Elsewhere" by Candace Rondeaux for the Washington Post, July 5, 2006
- "Chemical castration - breaking the cycle of paraphiliac recidivism" Social Justice, Spring, 1999 by Christopher Meisenkothen.
- "About hormone therapy for prostate cancer". cancerresearchuk.org.
- "The ADT Book". Life on ADT.
- "Gynecomastia with Anti-androgens". oncolink.org.
- "Anti-Androgen Side Effects". LIVESTRONG.COM.
- "Antiandrogen Drugs". TheFreeDictionary.com.
- Can drugs help sex offenders? by Clare Murphy for the BBC, 13 June 2007
- Chemical Castration: A Return to the Dark Ages Florida, August 1997, PDF
- Incapacitation through Maiming: Chemical Castration, the Eighth Amendment, and the Denial of Human Dignity by John Stinneford :: SSRN
- "Castration of Sex Offenders: Prisoners’ Rights Versus Public Safety" Charles L. Scott, MD, and Trent Holmberg, MD
- American Psychiatric Association
- "Bill would impose castration for convicted rapists". Ocala Star-Banner. 21 February 1997. p. 4B.
- "XII. SEX OFFENDERS: Children and minors". California State Senate. Retrieved 2006-11-23. The web page notes the Chemical Castration clause as a repeal and an addition to Section 645.
- "California child molesters could face chemical castration". CNN. 1996-08-29. Archived from the original on 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2006-11-23.
- California code
- "Chemical castration for paedophiles approved" in California 21 September 1996
- Spalding, Larry Helm (1998). "Florida's 1997 Chemical Chastration Law: A Return to the Dark Ages" (PDF). Florida State University Law Review 25 (2): 117–139.
- Rossmeier, Vincent (June 26, 2008). "Jindal approves castration for sex offenders". Salon. Salon Media Group. Archived from the original on June 26, 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that it's unconstitutional to execute someone for a case of child rape "where the victim's life was not taken." [...]
- Iowa Code 2007 Quick Retrieval
- "Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes :->2006->Ch0794->Section 0235 : Online Sunshine". state.fl.us.
- The Turing enigma: Campaigners demand pardon for mathematics genius by Jonathan Brown for the Independent, August 18, 2009
- Sullivan, Andrew (11 September 2009). "An Apology To Alan Turing". The Atlantic > The Daily Dish. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Archived from the original on 11 September 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
[...] One of the known side effects of these hormone injections was the development of breasts, known as gynecomastia, something which plagued Turing for the rest of his life. [...]External link in
- Thousands call for Turing apology, BBC, 31 August 2009
- bbc.co.uk - Alan Turing: Inquest's suicide verdict 'not supportable', 23 June 2012
- "[ARCHIVED CONTENT] Treatment of Alan Turing was "appalling" – PM - Number10.gov.uk". nationalarchives.gov.uk.
- "Mais condenações por abuso sexual de menor" (PDF). Diário de Notícias. 5 October 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-10-05.
- "Poland okays forcible castration for pedophiles". Reuters.
- "Poland approves chemical castration for paedophiles". ABC News.
- "BBC News - 'Menace' jailed over child rape and abduction attempt". bbc.co.uk.
- "Moldova will punish pedophiles with chemical castration". Noi.md.
- Estonia passes chemical castration law
- "Хемиската кастрација за педофилите ги подели психијатрите и правниците". novamakedonija.com.mk.
- Press Trust of India (30 December 2012). "Cong draft anti-rape law proposes chemical castration". business-standard.com.
- "Congress anti-rape law draft proposes chemical castration". IBNLive.
- "Congress anti-rape draft bill proposes 30 years jail, chemical castration - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 30 December 2012.
- Tali Libman (25 May 2009). "Losing a battle to win the war". Haaretz.
- Roanne Johnson (30 October 2010). "Convicted paedophile allowed to look after kids". Townsville Bulletin.
- "Argentina province OKs chemical castration for rapists". CNN. March 20, 2010.
- Francis, Clio (11 July 2011). "Chemicals don't always stop sex offenders". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
- "S. Korea enacts 'chemical castration' law to punish paedophiles". Reuters. 24 July 2011.
- "South Korean court orders first chemical castration". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 3 January 2013.
- "Court issues 1st chemical castration sentence". Korea Herald. 3 January 2013.
- "Russia introduces chemical castration for pedophiles". RT. 4 October 2011.
- "Indonesia considers chemical castration to punish pedophiles". Fox News.