This past year’s news cycles have been dominated with more stories of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct than anyone thought previously possible. Influential people across almost every industry segment have been implicated in stories of harrowing assault and misdeeds. Whether it were the atrocities committed by brave individuals by men of power like Harvey Weinstein or former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, these terrifying stories will be remembered for decades to come.
Another aspect of sexual assault and misconduct that has become the center of controversy is the degree to which predators should be prosecuted and punished. For example, Nassar’s sentence of 60 years in federal prison followed by 40-175 years in state prison is certainly fitting given the extent of his crimes. Although unlike Nassar, the punishment meted out to other sexual predators has been a lot more lenient. As noted in a previous article, Stanford swimmer Brock Turner received six months in county jail for three counts of sexual assault on an unconscious woman and served three of those months. The Brock Turner case in particular inspired a nationwide debate on sexual assault, and how the accused should be prosecuted — the public’s opinions being that a three-month sentence for serious sexual assault charges was too little.
When sex offenders are living in society, they are required to register usually via their State Department of Public Safety and list the severity of their crimes for the public to stay informed. Additionally, when a “high risk” sex offender resides in a new neighborhood, the predator’s neighbors will usually receive information in the mail regarding the new neighbor’s previous crimes. As if this was not punishment enough, it appears that one state could potentially begin a new form of punishment that has received both praise and extreme backlash from the public.
Chemical castration, unlike physical castration, does not involve the removal of any body parts whatsoever. Rather, those who undergo chemical castration are usually given a prostate medicine called lupron; one of its most notable side effects being a reduction in sexual appetite and sexual impulses.  Essentially, the medicine is given to sex offenders to subdue their urges to offend again and hopefully assist them in refraining from committing another act of sexual assault.

An image depicting the process of chemical castration

Process of Chemical Castration (asiaone)

Oklahoma will now have to debate this very issue as a result of a bill sponsored by Rep. Rick West that could potentially require men convicted of multiple sex crimes to take this medicine.

Not too surprisingly however, the bill has faced controversy and may be considered unconstitutional on the grounds of “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Although, seven states currently have similar laws in place — although it is rarely used. In California, a spokesperson for the prison systems told the Associated Press that this punishment has only been used “a couple of times”. Also, Montana and Louisiana officials stated that over the past decade, the measure has only been used once in each of their respective states.
How to properly punish sex offenders and ensure that they will not commit another crime, is a complex issue. Whether or not Oklahoma will go ahead with this bill has not been decided yet. However, if Representative West’s bill passes, it will be worth assessing if this controversial procedure is effective in reducing the number of sex offenders committing again.

What are your thoughts on chemical castration? Tell me on Twitter at @CaptainKasoff.