Castration, either surgical or chemical, is on the law books of eight U.S. states; according to 2006 data the procedure is authorized in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin. That form of punishment, however, is rarely used.
For example, of Florida’s approximately 102,000 prisoners, more than 11,100 have been convicted of sex crimes. Only 15 prisoners are scheduled for castration upon their release, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. Whether it is chemical or surgical castration is the prisoner’s choice; chemical castration usually involves ongoing treatment with Depo-Provera, which reduces testosterone levels.
“That’s an awful draconian step to take,” said University of Florida professor Bob Dekle, a former prosecutor. “I personally would have been reluctant to ask for it. And I think most judges I’ve appeared before would be reluctant to order it unless it was off the Richter scale for awful.”
As most offenders who qualify for castration are serving life sentences, the procedure is largely unnecessary. “It’s something on the books, but appears to be ignored,” said Dekle. “It’s not uncommon that you occasionally run across something that you say, ‘How long’s that been on the books?’ Laws like that are probably not needed.”
One Louisiana prisoner convicted of three counts of molesting girls age 6 to 12 found castration preferable to spending the rest of his life in prison. As part of a plea agreement for a 27-year sentence in 1999, Francis Phillip Tullier, 78, agreed to surgical castration. Various medical problems prevented the 10-minute hospital procedure from occurring until March 3, 2011.
Upon being told that he would remain in prison until 2024 unless he agreed to be castrated, Tullier said, “I lost my house, I lost my wife, and now y’all trying to take my manhood.” The judge replied, “It’s time to give Caesar what Caesar is owed.” Tullier was released from prison after the procedure, which he had to pay for himself, and must now register as a sex offender having given Caesar his testicles for his relative freedom.
“They had enough to send him up for two or three life sentences,” said Nathan Fisher, Tullier’s attorney. “He had no chance of getting out of prison unless we did something unusual.”
In Florida, civil commitment is the tool most often used by state officials to protect the public from sex offenders. There are around 700 residents at the Florida Civil Commitment Center awaiting trial to determine if they qualify as sexual predators. It costs about $100 a day to house them, or $25 million annually. This is despite the fact that civil commitment is of dubious value in terms of protecting the public, as opposed to providing effective sex offender treatment programs and community monitoring. As reported in PLN, when the sex offenders are prison or jail guards and the victims are prisoners, the punishment tends to consist of probation, suspended sentences and short jail sentences.
Sources: www.news-press.com, CBS News, Daily Mail, Connecticut Office of Legislative Research report (Feb. 21, 2006), Washington Post
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