Dalhousie Law Journal


chemical castration, male testoterone, Canadian Federal Court of Appeal, National Parole Board, sex offenders, ethics, recidivism


Chemical castration refers to the use of medication to reduce male testosterone to pre-pubertal levels. Since the mid-20th century reports have detailed this practice in attempts to control pathological sexual behaviour. In 2006, the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal ruled it constitutional for the National Parole Board to require that recidivist sex offenders, if found to be long-term offenders, be chemically castrated under their conditions of release. This paper examines the chemical castration of recidivist sex offenders in Canada through a review of long-term offender hearings reported between 1997 and 2009. The practice is analyzed from ethical, medical and legal perspectives. It is concluded that chemical castration of sex offenders is ethically problematic, that evidence for its effectiveness in preventing recidivism is limited and of poor quality and that judges should avoid excessive reliance on chemical castration when deciding to grant conditional release to recidivist sex offenders.

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