Chemical Castration: The Benefits and Disadvantages Intrinsic to Injecting Male Pedophiliacs with Depo-Provera
Child molestation is a serious problem in the United States. The legal system is lenient with pedophiles, punishing them with insufficiently brief prison sentences that are further abbreviated by the option of parole. Some child molesters are released back into society after serving as little as one fourth of their prison-time (1). Recidivism is extremely high among child molesters; 75% are convicted more than once for sexually abusing young people (6). Pedophiles commit sexual assault for a variety of reasons. Some rape children because of similar instances of abuse in their own childhoods (1). Some view the act of molestation as a way to gain power over another individual (1). Some pedophiles act purely on sexual desires. No matter what causes these heinous criminals to molest children, their crimes are inexcusable. Unfortunately, utilizing prison as a punishment for child molestation creates only a Band-Aid solution for the issue of sexual assault and other resolutions need to be investigated.
Alternative options for the punishment of male pedophiles are being explored in the status quo. Scientists have observed the link between testosterone and aggression and concluded that high levels of testosterone correspond with increased violent and aggressive behavior in men (5). "It is the reason that stallions are high strung and impossible to train, the reason male dogs become vicious and start to bite people. It's why boys take chances and chase girls, why they drive too fast and deliberately start fights. In violent criminals, these tendencies are exaggerated and carried to extremes" (8). In an effort to stop male pedophiles, male child molesters have the option of being chemically castrated in some states. "Chemical castration is a term used to describe treatment with a drug called Depo-Provera that, when given to men, acts on the brain to inhibit hormones that stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone" (2). Depo-Provera is a common birth control pill that containing a synthetic version of the female hormone progesterone. Advocates of chemical castration hope that injections of Depo-Provera will prevent men from molesting children.
However, some experts argue that Depo-Provera is ineffective and will not prevent molestation. Forced castration may have the adverse affect of angering a criminal, increasing his violent tendencies and lead to additional sexual abuse (2). Additionally, Depo-Provera is reversible. Therefore, unless injections are mandatory and monitored, pedophiles will not be "cured" by the drug therapy. The child molester will have renewed sexual fantasies and high levels of testosterone if the injections are discontinued (7). Joseph Frank Smith, a
convicted child molester, became an advocate for chemical castration after undergoing the therapy in the 1980s. Smith stopped using the injections in 1989. In 1999, he was convicted for molesting a five-year old girl and immediately returned to prison (3). Depo-Provera also has caused side effects in some men "including depression, fatigue, diabetes, [and] blood clots" (2). Chemical castration may cause some detrimental effects in child molesters.
Regardless, Depo-Provera has been proven to inhibit the abilities of pedophilias to assault children. The progesterone in Depo-Provera counteracts the biological tendencies that lead men to rape children (4). By lowering testosterone, Depo-Provera reduces sex drive (6). Males can have sexual intercourse (7) but do not want to. Depo-Provera also decreases aggressive tendencies by reducing testosterone. "[T]he castrated criminal would be more docile and have a better opportunity to be rehabilitated, educated, and to become a worthwhile citizen" (1). Castration removes the biological and chemical tendencies that are intrinsically linked to the desire to rape in males.
Depo-Provera also reduces recidivism rates. When used as a mandatory condition of parole (6). chemical castration decreases the occurrence of repeat offenses from 75% (6) to 2% (1). Prison is less desirable because it serves no rehabilitative purpose for sexual offenders. Pedophiles who spend time festering in a prison cell are given extensive downtime to concoct new sordid sexual fantasies involving children. These horrific visions are translated into terrifying realities once the criminal comes back into contact with children following his inevitable release from prison (1). Prison simply produces sneakier criminals. Pedophiles do not want to be incarcerated again so they think of new ways to rape children that will avoid detection and future detention (6). Prison increases aggressive tendencies in male pedophiles while chemical castration addresses the root causes of sexual assault and decreases further sexual deviance.
Although chemical castration is not the perfect solution to inhibit child molestation, it discourages sexual assault better than incarceration. Injections of Depo-Provera decrease the aggressive tendencies that lead to rape in males. Castration also discourages sexual fantasies and eradicates sexual obsessions. Pedophiles are reduced to apathetic pacifists. Regulated chemical castration should be encouraged as an alternative to prison for male child molesters in order to stop recidivism and decrease instances of sexual assault.
1) Castration Works. an article by Susan Feinstein for 212.net regarding the implications of chemical castration on pedophiles.
4) Is Chemical Castration an Acceptable Punishment For Male Sex Offenders. by LaLaurine Hayes for the online database "Sex Crimes, Punishment and Therapy" constructed by students in a Psychology course at California State University Northridge.