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Video Series: Tom Douglas Defends the Chemical Castration of Sex Offenders

The Minister of Justice in the UK wants to dramatically increase the use of chemical castration in sex offenders to reduce their risk of reoffending.Dr Tom Douglas (University of Oxford) argues that offering chemical castration to sex offenders might be a better option than current practices to prevent sex offenders from reoffending (e.g. incarceration), and responds to concerns about coercion and interfering in sex offenders’ mental states (e.g. by changing their desires).

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4 Comment on this post

  1. Hi, I could not understand why colouring the walls is the same as chemical castration.

    Obviously, there is a big difference between them. Colouring walls is just changing the environment of that person, and it does not have any harmful effects on their bodies, also it is not permanent because they won’t have any sexual urge as long as they are surrounded by green walls. If we remove those walls, then their sexual behaviour will be the same.

    But injecting chemicals is forcing someone to receive sth which also might have some negative effects on their bodies.

    I know that was just an example, but because this argument was based on this. I want to understand it completely.

    Also, why is the psychological intervention the same as physical one? It is not clear to me that they are the same, especially when psychological treatments or therapy can help this person to have a normal life.


  2. Thanks Fatimah,

    I agree that the ‘green walls’ intervention is different from chemical castration in its physical invasiveness. I was just suggesting that they could be equivalent with respect to their mental or psychological invasiveness. I don’t think the difference in physical invasiveness is enough to establish that coercive use of chemical castration is unjustified since we do seem to accept coercive physically invasive interventions in other analogous areas (e.g. infectious disease control, mental health act treatments).

    As to why I think the green walls case and chemical castration might be equivalent with respect to mental interference, unfortunately I didn’t have time to go into this, but I think the most important similarities are that they could be equally resistible (or irresistible) and neither engages the rational or deliberative capacities of the targeted individual. (Some have objected to chemical castration on the basis that it ‘bypasses’ the offender’s rational capacities, but I think this would be true of the green walls intervention as well.)

    1. Thanks, Tom. Your explanation makes it more clear to me now.

      A side question, what does rationality exactly mean? Especially, about a person with a psychological issue. (If there is any survey on this question, I would be grateful if you could please give the link. )


  3. As long if it’s limited and it works maybe. We need to remember, sexual attraction and some desires are not the same as action. There can be for example, two pedophiles who has a desire to act out, but one of them was more responsible than the other. Since when does one acting out mean we shall blame the pedophile attraction instead of the responsibility? Aren’t people who has the attraction already at risk? Since when does an act make it “fair” to blame the attraction itself when it’s not the same?
    If we try to get rid of the sexual part of the brain, we are getting rid of what makes part of a human, which is morally wrong.
    I think the thing we need to change is responsibility, not what makes a human being a human. The sexual part of the brain is already risky, but the key is responsibility, otherwise if we try to abuse the brain by getting rid of a sexual drive alone, we might as well do that to everyone, including non-pedophiles who has a sexual drive. But knowing it’s the lack of responsibility, it would be the wrong target.

    Sorry if I misunderstood.

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