Castration of Repeat Sexual Offenders: An International Comparative Analysis

By Russell, Stacy | Houston Journal of International Law, Winter 1997 | Go to article overview

Castration of Repeat Sexual Offenders: An International Comparative Analysis


Russell, Stacy, Houston Journal of International Law


TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Castration in the United States:

The Debate at Home

B. Castration Abroad:

Framing the International Debate

C. Purpose of Analysis

II. WHY DOES THE ISSUE OF CASTRATION CONTINUALLY

REAPPEAR?

A. United States

B. Scandinavian Countries

C. Australia

D. Canada

III. WHAT PROPOSALS ARE BEING SUGGESTED TO DEAL WITH

THE "SEX CRIMES PROBLEM" NATIONALLY AND ABROAD?

IV. THE PROCEDURE

A. Chemical Castration

B. Surgical Castration

V. THE HISTORY OF CASTRATION

A. Abroad

B. The United States

C. Castration for "Curative Purposes"

VI. THE LEGISLATION

A. Sweden

B. Finland

C. Norway

D. Czech Republic

E. Denmark

F. Germany

G. Individual State Action in the United States

1. Texas

2. California

3. Wisconsin

VII. COMPARATIVE, ANALYSIS OF STATUTES

VIII. DOES SEX OFFENDER TREATMENT WORK?

IX. IS CASTRATION TREATMENT WORKING IN EUROPE?

A. Denmark

B. Germany

X. IS THE PROCEDURE COMMON IN EUROPE?

XI. ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS 456

A. When Should a Judge Become an M.D.

B. Physician Involvement

XII. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

Public policy arguments continue to rage in the United States over the use of castration as punishment--or even as treatment--for repeat male sexual offenders.(1) While some argue it should be accepted as an alternative sentencing or treatment measure,(2) others say it is an easy answer to a difficult problem.(3) Some legal scholars make the argument that castration as a conditional punitive measure is unconstitutional under the United States Constitution's Eighth Amendment bar against cruel and unusual punishment.(4)

A. Castration in the United States: The Debate at Home

Many states have proposed some type of legislation regarding castration for sexual offenders.(5) For example, in Texas, a voluntary castration bill for repeat sexual offenders was introduced recently.(6) Other states have introduced similar statutes which have failed to pass the state legislature and become law. In 1995, approximately sixteen states were considering chemical castration for sex offenders.(7) Making the debate even more uncertain is the fact that involuntary castration has been rendered unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.(8)

One of the main issues in the castration debate is whether taxpayers should pay for a prisoner's voluntary castration. Taxpayers are already required to pay for extended prison sentences. Another issue worthy of consideration is the question of whether taxpayers should fund counseling in prisons to reform sexual offenders.

Various prisoners in the United States and abroad have requested to be castrated.(9) In Texas, Larry Don McQuay requested surgical castration, arguing that prison had done nothing to deter him from molesting children in the future.(10) McQuay is one of the most vocal prisoners advocating castration as a treatment of sexual deviants.(11) While McQuay has only been convicted of one count of child molestation, he admits to having committed at least 235 criminal acts involving child molestation.(12) McQuay said, "I dreamed of the violent rape of a 12-year-old girl .... Yeah, I could see where I was getting pleasure out of it, and I'm a couple of steps away from killing a victim."(13) McQuay feels certain that castration is the beat and only option available to him to prevent him from molesting children in the future.(14) McQuay is so certain that only surgical castration will stop his predations that he has asked a criminal justice reform group, Justice for All, to help him raise money for the operation. …

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