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The Effects of the Texas Castration Law on Paroling Sexual Offenders

Parole Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

The Effects of the Texas Castration Law on Paroling Sexual Offenders

Texas is one of several states that offers imprisoned sexual offenders the opportunity to be surgically castrated. This extraordinary measure allows eligible offenders to be released on early parole. It is also designed to lower offenders’ likelihood of being arrested and jailed for the same offense later.

However, the surgical castration law in Texas does not come without controversy. To mitigate the concern surrounding it, lawmakers in the state require sexual offenders to meet stringent criteria before agreeing to this procedure.

What is Surgical Castration?

Surgical castration, or orchiectomy, involves the surgical removal of a sexual offender’s testicles. It eliminates the production of testosterone. Proponents of surgical castration say that it lowers or eliminates the offender’s desire to act on his desires to carry out sexual assaults.

Surgical castration is permanent and irreparably changes the appearance and function of the offender’s body. It is not reversible and must be considered carefully before a potential parolee agrees to undergo this procedure.

Another option that Texas makes available to offenders who do not want to be permanently castrated is chemical castration. With chemical castration, the offender receives chemical injections of Depo Provera. This substance is an FDA-approved birth control and is used in this case to halt the production of testosterone.

Unlike surgical castration, chemical castration is not permanent and can be reversed. It also does not create permanent damage to a person’s body.

Someone who agrees to chemical castration must continue with the injections for the duration of his parole term. He cannot stop receiving Depo Provera until a judge in Texas agrees to end the procedure.

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Eligibility for Surgical Castration

Because of the implications that surgical castration has on his body, an offender must satisfy a number of stringent criteria before being allowed to go through with this procedure. Some of the requirements laid out by the surgical castration law in Texas include:

  • Conviction of two or more sexual offenses on his record.
  • Being at least 21 years of age.
  • Requesting the procedure in writing.
  • Signing a statement of admission for committing the offense for which he was convicted.
  • Undergoing a mental health evaluation.

Surgical or chemical castration is also available to sexual offenders who have been convicted of and sentenced for aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14, sexual assault of a child under 17, or indecency with a child under the age of 17.

Castration cannot be the sole condition of the offender’s probation or parole. It also cannot be a factor when the parole board considers whether or not to grant the inmate parole or probation.

If an inmate who has been convicted of these offenses meets these criteria, he can agree to undergo chemical or surgical castration before being released from prison. The castration must be completed prior to his being released on parole.

If he is chemically castrated, he must agree to continue with the Depo Provera injections until a judge orders their end. If he stops the chemical castration process before then, he can be sent back to prison for violating the terms of his parole.

Proponents of Surgical Castration

Advocates of this law argue that it can offer the ideal solution to both sexual offenders and the public at large. Primarily, they suggest that the law allows offenders to be granted parole and rejoin society without having to serve the rest of their time in prison. 

Early release spares taxpayers from paying for the offenders’ housing, medical costs, and other expenses during the time that they are incarcerated.

Also, they argue that surgical castration makes offenders safer and reduces the threat to the public. Because they can no longer produce testosterone, offenders are less likely to commit the same offenses for which they were imprisoned in the first place. 

Even if they fantasize about sexually assaulting a victim, they are not physically capable of carrying out the act because of their lowered sex drive.

Finally, advocates say that parolees no longer pose a threat to the public because they remain under the close supervision of the judicial system during the time they are on parole. They cannot stop receiving injections of Depo Provera without the approval of a judge. 

If they no longer comply with the terms of their castration or parole, they are subject to being arrested and sent back to prison.

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Arguments Against Surgical Castration

The surgical castration law in Texas is not without its share of criticism. In fact, critics of the law say that it violates the privacy of sexual offenders. The U.S. Constitution entitles offenders, regardless of their conviction, the right to privacy. Being castrated violates this right, critics argue.

Likewise, it violates the constitutional right to avoid cruel and unusual punishments for offenses committed on U.S. soil. Critics argue that castration, either surgical or chemical, is cruel and unusual because of the damage that it inflicts on the offender’s body.

Finally, they argue that castration can easily be overcome and counteracted with the use of medications that offenders can buy once they are released on parole. They can purchase medications that boost testosterone production from their local pharmacy or retailer. These drugs will cancel out the effects of the castration procedure and could allow offenders to commit sexual offenses again.

Despite the criticism of surgical castration in Texas, lawmakers in the state continue to offer it as an opportunity for sexual offenders to be released on parole from prison. Parolees who undergo the procedure must meet strict requirements to prove their ability to comply with this unique parole term fully.

Surgical castration in its ideal form would stop the urges of people who have been convicted of committing offenses like aggravated sexual assault. Also, it would prevent parolees from having to go back to prison.

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