More questions raised about the chemical castration bill

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(PNC photo)

Guam –  Senator James Moylan’s Bill 137-35 renews the discussion on using chemical castration for sex offenders. The new legislation has several key provisions. 

Moylan said the legislation is meant to add more teeth to an existing statute.

As written in the bill, the Parole Board shall require those qualified, as a condition of parole or post-prison supervision, to undergo hormone or anti-androgen treatment during the duration of parole or post-prison supervision.

Under the bill, a person required to undergo a treatment program of hormone or anti-androgen shall pay for all costs of the treatment program directly to the agency administering the treatment program.

Should the offender find themselves unable to pay for the treatment, the Department of Corrections will revoke the individual’s parole or post-prison release. The individual would have to pay the initial treatment before release.

These two mandates raise the question: If an offender opts out of parole or is just unable to pay for the treatment, will taxpayers now be obligated to pay for the duration of the offenders’ stay in prison?

Also as written in the senator’s bill, “The purpose of the program is to reduce the risk of re-offending after release on parole or post-prison supervision, by providing certain persons convicted of sex crimes that are deemed medically appropriate for the treatment program with hormone or anti-androgen, such as Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), each year.”

But what is MPA? It is a hormonal medication sold under the brand Depo-Provera or Depo. While it is used to prevent pregnancy, it is also used for chemical castration treatment.

The possible short term medical effects of MPA usage include weight gain, mild lethargy, cold sweats, hot flashes, nightmares, hypertension, elevated blood sugar and shortness of breath, according to the Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy.

However, the long-term effects of MPA usage remain unknown.

Also, according to that same Journal, research on MPA’s effects and its success in preventing recidivism “struggle to obtain substantive data” due to several hindrances.

First, accumulating data relies highly on self-reporting, or under the watchful eye of family members and probation officers. Also, there is scarce research on the sufficient treatment duration to determine the long-term effects of MPA.