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August 5, 2014

Judge denies Florida sex offender's request to be physically castrated

As reported in this local article, a judge in Florida has felt compelled to reject a sex offender's notable request for a notable alternative punishment.  Here are the details: 

Lester Leroy Williams is serving ten years in prison for sexually battering a child. Back in 2008, he was also sentenced to 4.5 years of probation. Recently, the 35-year-old Williams made a bizarre request: He wants the state to physically castrate him.

In a letter Williams wrote at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, he asked Fifth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Hale Stancil to modify his sentence to include castration at the expense of the state. But Stancil denied the unusual request this past Tuesday, stating his court didn't have jurisdiction to rule over the case.

"In 32 years, I have never had this request before," said Stancil, who spoke about the case for the first time to New Times. "I know there is chemical castration, but I've never had an inmate ask to be physically castrated before. I don't think I have authority as a judge to order such a thing."...

Florida already allows certain sex offenders to receive medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) treatment as part of their rehabilitation. MPA, an artificial hormone, is normally used to treat symptoms of menopause in women, but when used by men, it decreases testosterone to pre-puberty levels.  MPA has been used on sex offenders for years as a way of reducing the chances of recidivism by diminishing the sexual urges of men who have long histories of committing sex crimes.

According to Florida law, courts must sentence repeat offenders of sexual battery to MPA treatment but may choose to administer it to first-time offenders. The treatment does not replace or reduce any other penalty the court could impose, and the courts can order the treatment to last up to life....

The law stipulates though that instead of undergoing the chemical form of castration, sex offenders may -- of their own volition -- ask a court for physical castration, which is what Williams has done. Though the legal leeway seems to exist, it is rarely chosen -- Williams may be the first in Florida to request it even though he isn't even required to have MPA treatment.

"Sex offenders are wretched," said Maryam Sweirki, 25, a Miami advocate for victims of sexual assault. "If he can't handle his penis, then I'm for his decision to take his weapon away."

However, critics of castration believe it to be a cruel and unusual punishment that violates human and reproductive rights; with other critics arguing the law that allows for MPA castration, though it applies to both genders, is unequal in punishment because it has a greater impact on males.  Some of the side-effects related to the drug (besides decreased sexual urges) are: a loss of body hair, hot and cold flashes, impotence, depression, thrombosis, and weight gain.

Though it has been shown to decrease the number of reoffenders, some opponents further argue that castration isn't a panacea for all sex offenders because some of them are motivated to sexually abuse because of intense feelings of hatred and hostility, rather than sexual desire.

Some related older posts:

August 5, 2014 at 09:44 AM | Permalink


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In response to Miami victims' right advocate Maryam Sweirki, men and women who commit violent sex offenses have committed horrible crimes that society has a right to protect itself from. However, it has also been my experience that many right-wing pundits of both genders who advocate harsh barbaric punishments for sex offenders often themselves turn out to be sex predators. Examples include a female Tea Party member who forced her children to have sex with adults and to force her children to pose for child pornography. Before her bust, she pretended to be a victims' right advocate who advocated outright vengeance against perpetrators. Unfortunately, I don't have her name, but the pro-civil righst Southern Poverty Law Center listed her as an employee of a violent right-wing racist fringe group that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center's Dishonor Roll. Another right-wing politician who yelled loudly for harsh punishments for sex offenders was Mike Baumin. Remember him? He was once a Maryland Congressional Representative until 1981 when he was busted for having sex with minors. You won't hear any one of these two advocating barbaric punishments like castration any more now that the shoe is on the other foot. Ruth Aaron, an unsuccessful Republican Senate Candidate who ran in 1994 against a more moderate Republican, Bill Brock in Maryland, was herself charged with solicitation to commit murder against her husband despite her pretense of having been a victims' right advocate before her downfall. Ms. Sweirki, be careful whom you accuse and over what you advocate.

Posted by: william r. delzell | Aug 6, 2014 9:43:39 AM

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Posted by: claire | Aug 7, 2014 6:18:01 PM

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Posted by: claire | Aug 7, 2014 6:19:46 PM

Sexually attacks are usually out of violent rather than desire although the too can mesh.

However, arsonists and violent criminals do not have to register under the law, if one hits a person with a baseball bat, burns down your house and causes you and your children to suffer third degree burns, poisons you, or shoots you and is a violent gang member like ms-13, the law
deems them not a "not a threat to society upon release", or like the imam who attempted to cut off someone's hand.

Having said that if the offender is not compelled due to an unreasonable prison sentence or registration for a crime, and is the "worst of the worst" and admits being attracted to children, then there might be less opposition.

Of course we need to be careful, for instance we ask ourselves should we swap the death penalty for amputation of one's limbs as opposed to life in prison, the victim's family might be satisfied or if the victim is still alive in a life for prison case, obviously a cruel punishment, but with consent would it preferable to life in prison, and the attacker won't be able to commit an offense again.

Since that logic make sense, I think we use lwof and dp cases too frequently, before the 1970s and the court's rulings against dp, lwop was unusual, in the 1920s you would get say 20 years for murder, but death for killing a police officer, of course certain murders may get dp, we can then argue that lwop is "cruel and unusual punishment" like amputation of the limbs as opposed to dp "which is cruel but not unusual".

Posted by: Alex | Aug 9, 2014 12:56:58 AM

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