- Published: November 30, 1999
In several states in the US, as well as several countries around the world, chemical castration is sometimes used in sentencing of sex offenders. When done voluntarily on the part of the offender, this is usually seen as a win-win outcome for all parties involved in such a situation. The offender usually gets a much reduced prison sentence as part of the bargain, and it is obviously much cheaper for the state to provide the drugs, and a doctor to inject them every couple of months rather than detaining the offender for longer periods of time. The public is also much safer, with some studies showing a reduction in recidivism rate by an order of magnitude (from about 50% down to below 5% with treatment)[1,2]. Could a similar system be setup for other types of crimes? For example, criminals that have a hard time controlling their tempers (i.e. repeat offenders of "crimes of passion") could be put on a regimen of haloperidol (there are probably better drugs for this, but we'll use this just for an example). Haloperidol decreases aggression and agitation, and is also a sedative. This would help those that cannot restrain lapses in control of their anger. It may not be a perfect situation, but it still provides a win-win solution to the situation. The public is safer, because the anger and aggressive behavior will be repressed, and again, the drugs are a lot cheaper option than housing the criminal for the state. The criminal gets a reduced prison sentence and can more quickly resume their life. Most people don't like being on haloperidol, but it's got to be better than prison. Haloperidol can be administered in a depot injection (similar to Depo Provera, the birth control medication that has been often used in the chemical castration cases) and so the criminal only needs to receive an injection about once a month, and compliance is not wholly dependent on the criminal taking the medication of their own volition every day. Obviously this could be expanded to many other criminals and drugs as well. Even though it may be better for public safety than just locking them up for years, how would the public feel about convicted criminals being given an injection and being sent on their way?
- Marc Alexander. Sex Offenders, recidivism & chemical castration. Sensible Sentencing Trust. http://www.safe-nz.org.nz/Articles/sexoffenders.htm. viewed 17 Nov 2008.
- Reichlin S., Windhaber J., Eher R., Rösler A., Witztum E., Treatment of Paraphilia with an Analogue of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone. N Engl J Med 1998; 338:1923-1924.
Some information on haloperidol taken from wikipedia.org. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haloperidol viewed 17 Nov 2008.