For civil libertarians, the gradual de-evolution of our criminal justice system just got a bit more medieval. Virginia Republican Sen. Emmett Hanger is upset about the prison budget so he has found a way to trim costs by simply castrating sexual offenders. This is the same proposal vetoed four years ago, but there is now a conservative Republican governor in office and some believe it could pass.
The bill would apply to sexually violent predators. Hanger objects to an increase in the civil commitment program to $70 million over the next two years.
Of course, the bill would also cost millions in legal challenges after being challenged as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
Hanger insists that he is only proposing a “partial cure” to help these men and “It’s just something that’s not typically the thing you want to bring up in polite conversation.”
Eight other states allow for castration and two allow for physical castration.
The question has only been dealt with tangentially by some courts because castration programs are often voluntary. The Ninth Circuit noted in 2008 in United States v. Cope:
We have no doubt that chemical castration would, if prescribed against the will of a defendant on [**26] supervised release, implicate a particularly significant liberty interest. Like antispychotic medication, chemical castration interferes with mental processes and alters behavior. See, e.g., People v. Gauntlett, 134 Mich. App. 737, 352 N.W.2d 310, 314-16 (Mich. Ct. App. 1984); John F. Stinneford, Incapacitation Through Maiming: Chemical Castration, the Eighth Amendment, and the Denial of Human Dignity, 3 St. Thomas L.J. 559 (2006). It may also cause serious side effects, such as cancer and depression. Gauntlett, 352 N.W.2d at 315; Physician’s Desk Reference 2624 (61st ed., 2007) (discussing Depo-Provera, a hormonal drug used for chemical castration). As a result, chemical castration is certainly as intrusive as antipsychotic medication or penile plethysmograph testing. See Weber, 451 F.3d at 561-64;Williams, 356 F.3d at 1054. In fact, chemical castration may be found at the extreme end of the spectrum of intrusive medications and procedures, and there may well be other conditions of supervised release that qualify for Williams and Weber findings without reaching that level of intrusion. We do not doubt that there will be other types of medication or procedures designed to rehabilitate or deter, either extant or not yet in existence, which, if forced upon a defendant as a condition of supervised release, would implicate particularly significant liberty interests. Cf., e.g., Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (W. W. Norton & Co. 1962).
Hanger would start with a study on the use of castration in the Virginia penal system.
Source: Washington Times