Virginia bill proposes castration as treatment option for sex offenders

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Virginia's state crime commission recommended on Wednesday that more research was needed on a legislative bill that would allow convicted sex offenders to opt out of behavioral treatment centers if they agreed to voluntary castration. The bill, proposed by Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (RAugusta), was introduced as a cost cutting measure.

Hanger told the crime commission, "… when I proposed this initially, it was part of a list of cost-reduction methods." The Virginia General Assembly delayed a vote on the bill during its last legislative session until the commission could examine it.

Virginia sex offenders considered violent are sometimes released from prison sentences and placed into a mandatory state treatment center. The treatment costs per person are in the range of $7340 annually.

The Hanger bill (seems he may not be interested in pushing it) would re-open the debate on whether castration, either performed surgically or chemically, is an effective measure for an offender to opt out of treatment. Hanger himself has suggested that he may drop the bill in favour of a much broader measure setting up programs for dangerous sex offenders, in which castration will be one of many options.

The Minnesota House voted overwhelming to approve a measure for longer prison sentences and chemical castration for sex offenders in April of last year. Governor Tim Pawlenty later signed the bill on June 2.

California in 1996, and both Florida and Texas in 1997 passed measures allowing sex offenders to avoid judicial commitments by undergoing castration.