As shows like NBC Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” illustrate how big the pedophilia problem is, public outrage has caused state legislators to try to make castration part of the solution for high-risk sex offenders, the Washington Post reports. Eight states allow the use of drugs to castrate sex offenders, including California, Florida, and Texas, where surgical castration is also an option. In Florida, for instance, judges are required to order castration for certain repeat offenders.
Although many scientists and psychologists agree that castration can dramatically lower sexual drive, there is sharp disagreement about whether it is a cure-all. Although such drugs as Depo-Provera and Depo-Lupron can help control some sexual disorders, they may not control, for example, a violent serial rapist who targets adult women out of anger and a need for control. The drugs can have serious side effects. There is concern that castrated sex offenders might replenish their testosterone by injecting hormones purchased illegally or over the Internet. Mario J.P. Dennis, clinical director at a Virginia treatment center, said, “Castration does not completely erase sexual arousal or function. It doesn’t completely obliterate arousal, drive or the ability to commit a sex act.”