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Alex D'Andrea

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Sexual Predators and Their Threat to Society: Our Laws are Not Enough

Posted: 03/05/10 02:33 PM ET

From state initiatives like Jessica's Law and Megan's Law to federal initiatives, it is clear sexual offenders and their acts are on everyone's mind. Alabama Representative Arthur Payne who just had a law passed disabling sex offenders from working in public transit situations where children are accessible. This, however, is not enough. Just take a look at this week's Chelsea King case, where sex offender John Albert Gardner III allegedly raped and took an innocent high school students life. He was convicted once before for sexual offenses and let out after only five years of imprisonment. Sexual predators are often repeat offenders, and our laws allow them to go back out on the streets.

Chelsea King is emblematic of your sister, daughter, mother, or friend. Her situation happens by the numbers every day in America. Our laws are not enough.

My Proposal: Streamline state and federal laws into a comprehensive sexual predatory law for perpetrators who commit sexual violence against minors. This means creating a law that evokes fear so great within predators.

1) Sex offenders who commit crimes against children need longer sentencing. No individual who has sexually assaulted a child should be granted release after only five years like in the case of John Albert Gardner. Pedophiles show time and time again that most are repeat offenders.

2) Chemical castration should occur. This is not a permanent castration. It is a chemical that severely lowers sexual drive in predators.

I understand that my second point is controversial, and may be looked at as unconstitutional, however when standing back to assess these individuals and the acts they commit, this measure seems appropriate. Several US states already enforced similar measures. In 1996 California became the first state to enact legislation providing for chemical castration of certain sex offenders. About 6 months later, in 1997 the Florida legislature overwhelmingly enacted chapter 97-184 opening the door for chemical castration of sex offenders.

The Florida statue mandates court-ordered weekly injections of a sex-drive reducing hormone to qualified repeat sex offenders upon release from prison, and may be administered to first time offenders. The statue authorizes a trial judge to sentence any defendant who is convicted of sexual battery to receive medroxprogesterone acetate or MPA, the chemical castration drug. If the defendant is convicted of sexual battery and has a prior conviction for sexual battery, the trial court is required to impose a sentence of MPA administration. The administration of MPA, however, is contingent upon a determination by a court-appointed medical expert that the defendant is an appropriate candidate for the weekly drug injections. Likewise, the continued use of MPA is not required when a determination is made that it is not medically appropriate. The trial judge must specify the duration of the treatment that, in the discretion of the court, may be for life. The defendant is also instructed that he may choose surgical castration in lieu of chemical castration. The problem with this statue is that it does not properly define who can qualify as a medical expert, who qualifies as an "appropriate candidate for treatment," whether the candidate has the right to be informed of any potential medical risks, and whether the candidate can rebut the medical expert's findings concerning the appropriateness of the "treatment."

As you oversee the FDA, you may be aware that MPA has not been approved specifically for use in chemical castrations, as it is not considered an experimental drug, it can be prescribed by any physician under the FDA Guidelines relating to the "use of approved drugs for unlabeled indications." While the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that an individual possesses a liberty interest that includes the right to withhold consent to intrusive medical treatment, they have also recognized that in the face of legitimate prison regulations to preserve prison safety and security met by reasonably related procedures, the rights of prisoners may be limited. In conjunction with my first proposal, chemical castration should be practiced along with longer sentencing for sexual predators committing crimes against children.

France has also proposed this where they have high rates of sexual offenses. Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, and the spokesman for the ruling UMP party called for compulsory chemical castration for some offenders, preparing legislation in October of 2009. France, along with a number of other European countries, including Sweden and Denmark, already allows the use of drugs to lower the sex drive of offenders who agree to it. Prime Minster Fillon feels "we have to look at how, as a part of surveillance and control measures after someone leaves prison, we might make this more restrictive if necessary. It's a subject we are working on and we will make proposals to parliament in that direction." In September of 2009 Poland approved a law making chemical castration mandatory for some pedophiles. I feel the United States should take a more aggressive approach to the sentencing of convicted pedophiles, similar in the vein of Poland.

One of the nation's leading authorities on MPA, Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of the Biosexual Psychological Clinic at the John Hopkins Hospital, believes that prevailing research demonstrates that MPA will drastically reduce the rate of recidivism, or reversion to criminal behavior, of some sex offenders after they are released from prison. Most medical experts agree that, under proper conditions, the drug can be an effective rehabilitation tool for a narrow category of sex offenders.

I hope that this will inspire a grassroots movement to enforce harsher punishments on convicted pedophiles, as new measures must be taken in order to protect our children.