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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201318 Find in a Library
Title: Medicalization of Punishment as Prevention
Journal: Sex Offender Law Report  Volume:4  Issue:4  Dated:June/July 2003  Pages:51,52,58,59
Author(s): Roslyn Myers
Date Published: June 2003
Page Count: 4
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This document explores the interaction between medicine and justice.
Abstract: The medical profession has long had a place in the justice system. In Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), the United States Supreme Court upheld a Virginia law that permitted the involuntary sterilization of mentally impaired patients that were housed in State institutions. Voluntary sterilization unrelated to a criminal conviction does not cause alarm, even when it comes on the heels of some persuasion. These days, forced permanent sterilization, such as surgical castration, would probably be considered a violation of the Constitution. Chemical castration is the term used to describe drug treatments that destroy sexual capacities. The treatment is used as a preventative measure on repeat sex offenders. Proponents of chemical castration believe these drugs are the only effective treatment for repeat sex offenders. In 1996, California was the first State to enact non-voluntary chemical castration as a punishment for child molesters. Other States have enacted varieties of chemical castration laws. In the increasingly chemical-dependent society, chemical castration has gained public support. In response to an online poll asking if convicted rapists should be castrated using chemical castration, 12 percent said that chemical castration is cruel and unusual punishment and should never be used. Fifty-five percent supported its use at a judge’s discretion. Thirty-three percent said that they preferred to see surgical castration used. The legality and effectiveness of chemical castration is part of a long debate about the place of medicine in the legal system. The debate is also about the role of drug treatments in punishment and sentencing. Despite its inherent risks, a well-regulated system of drug treatment for sex offenders might offer the most promising possibility to achieve rehabilitation or safe reintegration of offenders into society.
Main Term(s): Medical model of offender treatment; Sex offender treatment
Index Term(s): Drug therapy; Mandatory sex offender treatment; Sex offenders; Treatment; Treatment effectiveness; Treatment offender matching
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