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A New Look at Cruel and Unusual Punishment in Florida

The issue of cruel and unusual punishment for offenders of sex crimes in Florida has recently been pushed into the limelight when a convicted sex offender requested physical castration as part of his sentencing. The controversial use of castration to sentence and punish offenders of sex crime has been a practice seen in several states in the United States; Florida being one of the states that promotes the use of chemical castration. Florida has had a history of reducing the sentence of many of its sex offenders who have opted to receive some form of castration in lieu of a life sentence.

Sentencing Options for Sex Offenders Promoted by Several States

Generally, many of the states that approve of the use of castration opt for chemical castration over physical castration. Chemical castration is utilized in an attempt to manipulate repeat sex offenders’ libidos, especially in the cases where the crimes are motivated by sexual impulse. Chemical castration in Florida is done through the administration of medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), which is a drug normally used to treat women suffering from the effects of menopause. In men, the drug has the effect of decreasing testosterone to pre-puberty levels. The desired effect of the drug is that decreased testosterone levels will lead to a reduction in sexually-motivated crimes. Physical castration involves the removal of the testes where 95 percent of testosterone is produced in the male body.

Florida’s Take on Castration

Florida law stipulates that repeat offenders must undergo some form of castration as part of their sentencing; the court may have some leeway when deciding whether to administer the chemicals to first-time offenders. The law does provide sex-offenders to choose physical castration in lieu of chemical castration but this option has never been requested until a couple of weeks ago.

Physical castration has been shown to be effective in reducing the recidivism rate for many castrated sex offenders. In a study published in Germany, the recidivism rate was 3 percent for castrated offenders whereas non-castrated offenders had a rate of 46 percent.

Controversy Behind Castration as a Form of Punishment

The legal trouble behind the administration of chemical castration drugs or physical castration is the argument made by opponents that any form of castration is cruel and unusual punishment. This holds especially true when the law requires the court to sentence repeat sex-offenders to this form of punishment even though it may not be the foundation of the problem. In sexually-motivated crimes where uncontrolled desire may be at the center of motivation for committing the offense, removal or reduction of testosterone may help to curb the desire to commit the offense in the first place. However, there are many reasons why defendants are convicted of sex crimes that have little to do with high testosterone levels.

Some defendants who have been convicted of sex crimes were shown to have committed these sex crimes because of other motivating factors. One major factor seen with offenders was a high rate of alcohol and drug abuse tendencies. Other motivating factors for committing sex crimes was an attempt to show power over another.

Criminal Defense Attorneys to Protect Clients From Cruel and Unusual Punishment

What is cruel and unusual punishment, though considered in the legal realm an objective standard, is experienced by defendants in different ways. What is cruel and unusual to one defendant may be a necessary and effective deterrent against another. It is important that defendants have an advocate that is willing to protect them from any punishment that would be deemed cruel and unusual. If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense, please contact the law office of Kevin J. Kulik in Fort Lauderdale for guidance and information for your case.

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