"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Castration Being Considered Again

Every so often a legislator floats the idea of castration for sex offenders. One such legislator in Virginia is behind an effort to offer "voluntary" castration in lieu of indefinite civil commitment. In Virginia, once a serious sex offender has served his sentence, the Commonwealth may seek a civil commitment, which is indefinite unless and until a judge rules that the commited person is no longer a threat. According the Richmond Times Dispatch, Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr., R-Augusta, has argued that "'when I proposed this initially, it was part of a list of cost-reduction methods.'' The [civil commitment]center is extremely costly, he said."

The problem? No one knows in a quantifiable sense what the real deterrent effect of castration is. Since many of these crimes are not motivated solely by the desire for sexual release, the question arises whether castration will really prevent some sexual offenders from re-offending. The best a medical expert could offer? "It's hard to say more than [studies] suggest it might help." This was the worry of the chairman of the state crime commission:
"But I'll tell you I'm real concerned about . . . the lack of credible information" about the effectiveness of castration, said Stolle, R-Virginia Beach. Without further information, he said, "I'd be uncomfortable releasing these people from civil commitment."

Previously, I've offered a different solution to the problem of violent, predatory sex offenders. In any case, releasing them from commitment on such flimsy evidence of castration's effectiveness would be a serious, and likely fatal, error.

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