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Chemical castration as public policy gets a failing grade

By Sandy . . . With legislatures in session across the country, advocates are closely watching bills that address their issues. Some are good, some are indifferent, and some are just plain bad.

The touchstone is does the bill address a situation in need and/or does it provide improved safety for those whom it affects. In other words, is it good public policy?

New Mexico House Bill 128 is just plain bad on so many levels, and it is being hyped in the media for something it is not.

HB 128 requires men who have been convicted of a wide array of sexual crimes to receive a regimen of medication called “chemical castration” before receiving what the media is calling “early release” in the form of parole.

In New Mexico, people incarcerated for a sexual conviction don’t receive early release; they do their full sentences and then are paroled. The bill requires the recipients to pay for their own medication unless they can prove they are indigent. This alone will help create a backlog of cases that will further strain the taxpayer’s burden.

Convicted offenders with housing restrictions are already being held in prison, some long past their release date, until the parole board approves their housing plan. This will add more to that number, those waiting for the treatment, which is complicated and costly, and those waiting to be approved as indigent and then waiting for treatment.

This does not appear to be understood by representatives Stefani Lord and John Block, the sponsors of the bill. Lord said, “Since pedophiles are eligible for early release in New Mexico, for that privilege, they will need to agree to be chemically castrated as a condition of their parole. If they don’t agree to these terms, they can stay in prison, away from society, and do their entire sentence.”

Her error, aside from her incorrect, misleading, and inflammatory usage of the word “pedophiles,” is: They already do their entire sentence; they are not eligible for “early release”; this will hold them beyond the completion of the sentence. Additionally the bill does not specify crimes against children or victims under a certain age but rather addresses a great many sexual offenses.

Rep. Block said, “With clear science and support from experts in favor of chemical castration of pedophiles, this is the most commonsense legislation to ensure the threat of these criminals is dramatically reduced.” There is very little support from science and experts; most support the opposite; again, the gratuitous use of the word “pedophiles”; the high “threat” alluded to is a fallacy and contradicted by every valid study done.

New Mexico is not unique in proposing this strategy. A handful of states already have it in law, and others are considering it.

California and Florida are cited as being states that mandate its use. The language in California law, Section 645 (1996) states that with a victim under thirteen, the injections “may” be requested by an offender after the first offense, and that after a second like offense, he “shall undergo” the treatment.

Florida’s statute 794.0235 (1997) likewise says it may be requested after a first conviction of any form of sexual battery (794.011) and “shall” be used after a second offense. Unlike California, Florida does not attach an age limit to the prerequisite.

Louisiana’s law (14:43.6) reads very similar to that of Florida with the exception of specifying a victim age of less than thirteen.

501.061, Texas Penal Code, allows the procedure upon request after the 2nd offense of a child under fourteen and has a laundry list of conditions that must be met by anyone requesting it. According to information from Texas Voices, it is virtually never used.

Wisconsin’s NARSOL state contact reports that while statute 302.11(1)(b)2 states it may be a requirement of the DOC or Parole under certain circumstances, DOC says the controversial treatment is currently offered but never required.

Iowa has language in its laws that allow its usage under certain circumstances, and Georgia and Oregon have allowed the practice in the past if not currently.

Alabama’s requirement is that all those whose victim was a child under 13 receive the very costly treatment as a condition of release after a first offense and that the cost is borne by the offender, making the Alabama law more stringent than any of the others and with the major features of this proposed New Mexico law with the exception that it addresses children under 13.

It is bad public policy wherever it exists, and for a variety of reasons.

The positive benefits are far below what might conceivably justify its usage, and the negative effects are medically serious, being associated with various side effects, including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, impaired glucose and lipid metabolism, depression, hot flashes, infertility, and anemia.

The vast majority of the population on whom it is coerced and forced, through more acceptable forms of therapy and self-motivation, will not reoffend sexually.

The moral and constitutional objections are universal and compelling.  From a moral and human rights perspective, the general consensus is that it is barbaric and reminiscent of our nation’s earlier and darker forays into eugenics.  As one study puts it, “. . . chemical castration under the current laws is vaguely positioned between punishment and treatment due to lack of informed consent by the recipient. . .”

As with the registry and all restrictions that target persons convicted of a sexual offense, the procedure would not result in any significant reduction in future offenses. Most future child molesters are not those already convicted, but rather family members and other trusted individuals who may never even enter the criminal justice system, and to an only slightly lesser degree, this is also true when the victims are adults.

New Mexico is the latest state to consider chemical castration for people convicted of certain sexual offenses, but they are highly unlikely to be the last. This strategy fails many tests, and it fails the biggest one of all: It is NOT good nor effective public policy.

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

13 Thoughts to “Chemical castration as public policy gets a failing grade”

  1. AvatarMike

    I was hoping policies like this would be dying out with all the criminal reform going on. Seems like everyone else, even murderers, are getting a slap on the wrist while those of us with sex offenses, violent or otherwise are being clamped down on.

  2. Avatarclyde

    doesnt sound “consensual” to me.

  3. AvatarA Mistake They Made

    What about women sex offenders? What are they going to do to them? Ya I know they didn’t even think of that. Its the double standard promise of the USA. The USA is a joke from what the founding fathers planned. You will not receive a fair trial. You will not be treated fairly. You will be subjected to cruel unusual punishment. They have thrown away the rule book for sex offenders only because the public doesn’t care until they themselves become ensnared in the life destroying machine that is the sex offender registry.

    1. AvatarWC_TN

      They have thrown away the rule book for sex offenders only because the public doesn’t care until they themselves become ensnared in the life-destroying machine that is the sex offender registry”

      That’s the key right there. They don’t care. Plain and simple. They don’t just follow what voters want. They also follow their own animus because they’re parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. themselves.

  4. AvatarWC_TN

    There are very serious medical side-effects that come with chemical castration.
    1. Insulin resistance/hyperglycemia/diabetes…what about PFRs who have to take this injection who are already diabetic? It will accelerate the progress of the disease with devastating consequences.
    2. Increased cardiovascular morbidity
    3. Reduced bone mass density which is a functional equivalent of osteoporosis, which means broken hips, spinal column deterioration….
    These side-effects, if fairly and honestly evaluated by the courts, would mean they would be prohibited because the “treatment” is clearly violative of the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

  5. Avatarw

    This country was ruined. They just keep managing to cover it all up in a nice package and hope that nobody notices the real motives. It’s a sad, rotten, ugly, truth. They’re all connected, it’s a heavily entrenched and well insulated network. And people are being abused by the system.

  6. AvatarTS

    I have had to sit on this article and let it ferment for a bit before coming to this conclusion:

    This is barbaric and reminiscent of middle ages when such tortuous ideas were actually implemented and even through until the current age when such physical punishments are levied against persons overseas. What the hell has this country come to?! Has it lost its ever loving mind?! I believe, sadly, it has regressed and is continuing to regress instead of progressing as our forefathers wanted us to do.

    While I understand those who are suggesting these punishments want to do harm in the name of safety to justify it, this is insane. It reminds of me of the Old Testament, eye for an eye, whatever that equals to. The altitude is getting to those in Santa Fe.

  7. AvatarA Mistake They Made

    Also I cant wait until they do this to someone who is later found innocent, and I hope they financially destroy the State for it!

  8. AvatarScrewed over

    As long as there are tv shows that push the narrative that all ppl on the registry are raping babies then laws like this will keep coming up. I know there are ppl who need real help. I know there are some really messed up ppl out there. But there are so many ppl on the registry that have stupid ass reasons they have to register for. But no one sees that it’s juat the horrific crimes that anyone sees.

  9. AvatarJohn

    That’s funny, it looks like a couple of these states that have chemical castration on the books are also against allowing children to take hormone blockers or hormones. This is the same type of drug they give people to change their gender is it not?

  10. AvatarEd C

    The New Mexico legislative session ends at noon today, 3/18/2023. Due to the efforts of the local NARSOL affilliate, i.e. Liberty & Justice Coalition, and its partners the chemical castration bill did not even clear the first committee. It is effectively dead until next year. The same coalition was successful in removing a requirement that someone convicted of bestiality be required to register as a sex offender. The amended bestiality bill passed unanimously even though that act is already unlawful under existing animal cruelty laws.

  11. AvatarTim in WI

    Dear Sandy,
    About 30 yrs. ago I put a simple question to a NYU “change agent” what n a large groups circle of apps 60 persons in a prison setting.
    Is a pediatrician who practices circumcision guilty of performing genital mutilation?
    How many defense attorneys ask that very line of questions in trials?
    My point is, this his how the established, patch and the rest, play the game.
    It’s the capitalisation from of perception of the non reality.
    Behold the infamous story telling to our children’s environment. Most are committed in 1 jurisdiction yet the feds are automatically in every one of these large group shooting scenarios. The fed and internet & DDI will fix it? Me thinx not. No doubt castration has been suggested and used in history. If Congress goes that route it would’ve been based on manifest necessity. Just like the database driven infrastructure & now database driven currencies. A result of social construct, unfettered use and application of the machine.

  12. AvatarMike

    I wonder whether anyone has considered that this might violate the equal protection clause, since it apparently only applies to men, not women.

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