An experiment designed to ‘chemically castrate’ sex offenders, all of whom are supposedly ‘volunteers’, is being carried out by the Prison Service. The scheme is fully backed by the Ministry of Justice which said it supports the use of drug “intervention” for some high-risk offenders.
However, some believe that it is not possible for the prisoners, often afraid of never being released, to freely ‘volunteer’ for anything, let alone something so potentially damaging and which was previously demanded by tabloid newspapers and populist politicians, child protection charities and women’s groups.
With many sex offenders already serving indefinite sentences (IPP) with no defined release date, TheOpinionSite.org is not alone in suspecting that if a prisoner does not ‘volunteer’ for the controversial and unproven drug treatment, he may never be released. With existing offending behaviour courses for example, which are also supposedly ‘voluntary’, history shows that if the prisoner does not volunteer to undertake the programme, in most cases he is simply not released.
The idea that any prisoner can ever give free consent for anything is ludicrous. If someone else holds the keys to a person’s freedom, that person is likely to go along with whatever the key-holder says. If a prisoner officer suggests that a prisoner may not be released unless he volunteers for a particular course of action, the prisoner is likely to volunteer very quickly without much thought.
The pilot scheme at HMP Whatton in Nottinghamshire includes chemical castration but mostly involves anti-depressants. “The prisoners are all volunteers”, criminal psychiatrist Don Grubin of Newcastle University said.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Medication can be used in conjunction with other approaches to managing the risk of sexual offending, such as multi-agency public protection arrangements and accredited sex offender treatment programmes.
“We are looking at the best ways to deliver this service, which is why we are carrying out pilot schemes at HMP Whatton and in the East Midlands probation region.”
How interesting that these measures should be referred to as ‘a service’. Maybe that is intended to make them respectable. It should also be noted that the ‘sex offender treatment pogrammes quoted by the MOJ spokesman are accredited by an MOJ and Prison Service appointed ‘panel of experts’, not by any truly independent source.
Mr Grubin went on to say that the treatment was used for offenders with “a high level of sexual arousal or intense sexual fantasies or urges who aren’t responding to psychological treatment”.
What Mr Grubin was careful not to say was that there is already huge doubt as to whether the ‘psychological treatment’’, offending behaviour courses by another name, actual works anyway. Successive governments have wasted millions on such courses and still refuse to take heed of any research which does not support their use.
So far, in its obsession with both the treatment and punishment of convicted sex offenders, together with its refusal to acknowledge that most abuse takes place in the home and is not carried out by strangers at all, successive British governments have potentially wasted billions of pounds on courses and other measures that may in fact only reduce reoffending by less than 5% and which may in fact not reduce offending at all.
The truth is that most sex offenders do not reoffend anyway for a variety of reasons and that offending behaviour programmes are used by probation officers primarily as risk-assessment tools rather than with any expectation that they may actually reduce reoffending. The delivery of these courses also keeps armies of otherwise unnecessary people employed.
TheOpinionSite.org believes however that where the use of potentially addictive drugs are concerned, decisions as to their use, particularly on prisoners who cannot give free consent, should not be left to trainee psychologists and young, inexperienced probation officers anxious for career progression.
Most psychologists in the prison service are indeed trainees, usually overseen by a qualified forensic psychologist who is part of the establishment. The use of independent assessors is rare due to the cost and this only makes the situation worse, given the secretive nature of how the prison and probation services function.
Though members of the public, who are often fed a diet of lies and misinformation by both tabloid newspapers and politicians – including power hungry Home Secretaries – may think that any form of castration for sex offenders is a good thing, they usually change their view rapidly when their husband, brother or boyfriend finds himself convicted of a sexual offence, often on little or no evidence.
The fact that these horrendous experiments on prisoners being carried out at HMP Whatton have been kept secret from the public for so long, only increases the likelihood that the authorities have something to hide.
Mr Grubin continued, “You are not giving these drugs to make them safe – you are giving them to lower the risk. “These men … do report marked changes in their lives,” he added.
If the drugs don’t ‘make them safe’ then what is the point of administering them? As for the ‘changes in their lives’, of course there is a change. Everyone changes when they are pumped full of drugs.
This whole issue also begs the question as to how anyone can accurately assess another person’s risk, most assessments essentially being based on so-called ‘professional judgement’ or, in reality, a guess.
Over the last 20 years or so, the prison and probation services, eagerly supported by MPs and child protection groups, have introduced offending behaviour courses, psychometric testing, a penile plesmysgraph (which allegedly measures sexual arousal), the expensive and ineffective Sex Offenders Register, increased restrictions on released sex offenders, Sex Offender Prevention Orders, mandatory lie detector tests (so unreliable they are not allowed to be used as evidence in court), Travel Prevention Orders, Dangerous Personality Disorder units and now, chemical castration.
Every single measure listed above started as a ‘pilot’ or experiment, most on a ‘voluntary’ basis and every single one of them were later made compulsory either in Law or by effect.
One cannot help but feel that many of these measures have been introduced in order to support and expand the ever-growing ‘public protection’ and ‘child protection’ industries and to keep alive the necessary fears of the public in general and parents in particular, without which there could be no justification for what many suggest amounts to the persecution of a small minority of criminals, most of whom never reoffend anyway and all of whom are branded for life just as surely as though they had a number tattooed on their wrist.
What is worse, all the while this has been going on, successive governments have steadfastly refused to address the principal area of concern regarding abuse – that of the home.
Even the NSPCC and other child protection charities were forced to reluctantly agree that only a fraction of abuse is carried out by strangers; yet these organisations, just like governments, continue to perpetuate the myth of ‘stranger danger’ rather than look at abuse within the home environment. If they did not, they would never receive the huge amounts of money that they get, only 30% of which actually goes to the protection of children, the rest being spent on salaries and the charity itself.
MPs do not want to go there either because they fear a political backlash. Like the charities, police, child protection ‘experts’ and probations officers, they instead find it much easier to make capital out of those who have already been convicted whilst simultaneously ignoring the 90% of abusers who are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and family friends.
The public are no better, fearing to talk about abuse in the home in case the authorities come in and rip the family apart. Much easier too for members of the public to rely on the ‘monsters’ and ‘fiends’ portrayed by the cheap newspapers rather than to admit that they may be living with an abuser.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that if Britain is now at the stage where it is prepared to experiment on prisoners, mainly because they cannot fight back, it is time that they gave up criticising Hitler, Saddam Hussein, the present Syrian administration and other ‘inhuman’ regimes.
The fact is that by coercing and effectively blackmailing prisoners into being used as lab rats, the British are proving themselves to be no better. Certainly, it is true that the Americans have been there before us. Even they now agree that their sex offender management protocols are a disaster; yet, as always, the British seem intent on following them.
How long will it be before sex offenders have to wear a badge in public? If you say it cannot happen here, you are completely wrong. It already happens in the United States with registered sex offenders details published on the Internet, the requirement for them to have a sign on their house and a badge on their car, etc.
The British government and the British public need to reflect on where this is all leading. Prisoners, whatever their crime, are neither the playthings of the state nor monsters to be thrown away and experimented on behind locked doors and high walls.
If Britain has any self-respect left at all, which some would consider doubtful, the government should stop these experiments and instead of wasting the hundreds of millions currently being spent on politically beneficial but ineffective and sometimes inhuman treatment, it should spend the money to try and stop abuse at the source; that is, in the home environment – that place where politicians and those with vested interests fear to tread because it is difficult.