February 2, 2007
A controversial bill in the General Assembly this year would allow sex offenders to voluntarily be castrated. Augusta County Sen. Emmett Hanger first introduced this bill last year.
The bill gives sexual offenders the choice of being castrated rather than being indefinitely committed to a secure treatment center after their release from prison.
The bill did not pass last year, and Friday the senator agreed to water it down with hopes this will give it more of a chance to be approved.
The senator did this by agreeing that the issue needs to be pursued further, and added an amendment that the State Department of Mental Health, and the attorney general's office, study the feasibility of castration.
Sen. Hanger's office said the senator has been working with the State Department of Mental Health on the issue and is 'fine with the changes.'
This bill has come under fire by psychologists, though, who say the operation is barbaric and simply does not work.
Psychologist Dr. Dwight Colley, who works mostly with sexual offenders, said this bill is looking for a simplistic answer to a complex problem.
"The use of castration does in fact cut down on the impulsivity, but it doesn't cut down on the mental processes, and that's what sex offending is all about," he noted. "It is a way in which an individual manages his emotions."
Dr. Colley continued that there are several ways to treat sexual offenders. They have had a lot of success with medication, for example, and says that this bill is just a way of 'getting even' with sexual predators.
The Senate Education and Health Committee adopted Senator Hanger's revision and sent it to the Courts of Justice Committee for further analysis.
The General Assembly session ends on February 24.