Interesting thread. I had thought that the only kind of castration being seriously considered in criminal justice these days was “chemical castration”. Judges sometimes sentence sex offenders to a regimen of periodic injections of something which makes them incapable of erection.
I’m not sure exactly what the point is. I can see deterrence as a factor - rapists obviously like to use their sex organs as weapons, so perhaps chemical castration is a real threat to them.
There is also an “incapacitation” factor, since someone so treated would be incapable of rape under the legal definition. Other foul acts the person may commit are not (in my state anyway) defined as rape; this doesn’t make them any less terrible, but perhaps some incapacitation is better than none. At least, that’s what the judges seem to think.
As to the testosterone factor, I’m not sure exactly what chemical castration does to hormone levels. Certainly it is reversible, since going off the drug should return the man to normal (e.g. after the sentence is done or the counselling is completed); I’m just not sure what the testes do during the chemical’s effective period.
I heard a case where somebody who had been released from prison on this chemical did go out and commit a similar crime; this time he used a foreign object. So clearly, it is not always successful. Whether it is successful enough to be worthwhile, I don’t know.
On the whole, I think chemical treatment is a punishment often directed at the wrong perpetrators. Repeat sex offenders and child molesters are dangerous to society as a whole, and often need to be locked up at least until they are using false teeth. I’m not saying none of them are redeemable, just that I think we have to err on the side of caution with these guys.
Date rapists, on the other hand, pick their targets pretty carefully and can usually get away with their crimes. It’s hard for juries to send some college guy to prison in a “he said, she said” situation. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me on this one, but I think that chemical castration may be an appropriate punishment for a date rapist when the jury is not willing to send anybody to the pen; perhaps it would make convictions easier to get in the huge majority of acquaitance rapes which leave no physical evidence of a struggle. It would sort of be a chastity belt for young rakes - reversible and invisible, but utterly terrifying to the sort of guy who perpertrates these crimes to begin with.
Like I said, I know I’m crying in the woods. People see castration as a satisfying revenge to be carried out against sadistic pederasts, not a modest deterrent against non-consensual sex.
Surgical castration, on the other hand, will probably never fly as a large-scale criminal justice measure.