Does Castration Stop Rapists?

Recidivism rates are lower for sex offenders than any other crime. Drug offenders are 10 times more likely to be rearrested for a similar crime, according to Justice Department statistics.

According to Samek, rape and sexual abuse are generally symptoms of a personality disorder. The recidivism rate is low because the experience of arrest and prison is usually enough to keep them from committing the crime again. Through traditional talk therapy, many sex offenders can keep their impulses under control, he said.

But others disagree, and see the use of drugs like Depo-Provera, a synthetic form of the female hormone progesterone, which counters the effects of testosterone as an essential tool in curbing the violent sexual desires of rapists.

"A subset of rapists is driven by abnormal sexual cravings, and lowering their testosterone diminishes those cravings," said Dr. Fred Berlin, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

"This is a very heterogeneous group of individuals, and a subgroup is driven by sadistic cravings. They are likely to be repeat offenders. Talk therapy cannot adequately help them and drugs can in those cases be helpful. … If we can make our communities safer, why wouldn't we?"

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