Public Prosecutor, Celso Leal, approves of the chemical castration of sex offenders
There are conditions attached to Celso Leal’s opinion, chemical castration should be applied only with the consent of the convicted man and must be reversible.
“It could never be imposed, because that would be unconstitutional,” said the prosecutor in an interview with Público, currently the treatment is not provided for in Portuguese legislation.
In cases where chemical castration is agreed, the Public Prosecutor proposes that the jail is replaced by probation with chemical castration an option for the perpetrators of any sexual crime, including paedophilia.
The magistrate considers the sex offender ‘a patient’ and chemical castration has to be accompanied by other measures such as limiting the circulation of the sexual offender, the use of electronic bracelets and house arrest.
The prosecutor has written a book on, ‘Sexual Crimes and Chemical Castration in the Portuguese Legal System – End of a Taboo?’ which will be launched on February 23rd in Oporto.
For the 41-year-old magistrate, the method should be applied to any sex offence and could be an alternative to a prison sentence or a condition of probation.
Leal claims that the method is a more effective deterrent than imprisonment and allows “the citizen to return to live in society, perfectly integrated, substantially reducing the risk of him again infringing the rules in crimes of this nature.”
The prosecutor suggests that the chemical castration would be carried out by using hormonal drugs that reduce sexual desire and the capacity for sexual arousal and whose effects are reversible. This would be alongside psychiatric treatment.
“The word castration itself, in this context, means that the person ceases to have sexual intercourse, no organ is amputated and is reversible,” explains Leal.
Some countries have rejected this treatment as it is said to have led to side effects such as violent behaviour.
In 2008, an experimental intervention program was launched in three Portuguese prisons: Carregueira (Belas, Sintra), Paços de Ferreira and Funchal developed by the psychologist Rui Abrunhosa Gonçalves, from the University of Minho, in coordination with the Directorate General of Prison Services.
The program developers noted that the voluntary nature of the programme was a crucial factor in its success. They initially planned to cover ten inmates per prison, contemplating a possible enlargement to other prisons in the future. The programme also included a rehabilitation component but, despite chemical castration planned in other European countries such as the United Kingdom and Sweden, a proposal was rejected by Parliament in 2009 and in 2003.
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