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September 6th, 2009
11:45 AM ET

Castration for Violent Sex Offenders?

Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Jake Goldenflame, a convicted child molester who now works to help other sex offenders, discuss with CNN's Richard Lui whether castration is an effective means of treatment.

Filed under: Don Lemon
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Leah

    Isn't sexual crime a crime of violence and power rather than, well, sex?
    It would not be difficult for these people to find suitable alternatives to continue committing these kinds of crimes.

    September 6, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  2. Don D. Brock

    We Have made mistakes and killed the wrong people for murders they did not commit.
    We have resorts(prisons) For rich people who break the law. Maybe instead of making more mistakes we should send none violent child abusers to those resorts(prisons) where they cannot hurt anybody and may have a chance for redemption. As for those who take a life, They need to be separated from general population where they will not get hurt or cause problems. All inmates should be encouraged to work and educate themselves so if they have a chance for release they will be better able to take care of themselves. Who knows what good people can do behind bars (if properly taken care of) That they could not do in society. With all its uncertainty, distractions and caveman mentality.
    I can handle the rat race to a point but they are those that get confused and get lost and cannot be in a free society like ours but they may not be useless to society if properly cared for.

    Don D. Brock

    September 6, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  3. jacqueline grosse

    Hi Richard,
    I wanted to comment on your interviews with Dr. Berlin and Jake Goldenflame. As a parent, you can imagine how I feel about sex offenders. While some of the points brought up by Dr. Berlin and Jake were thought provoking, some were so disturbing that they have compelled me to write to you. First of all, with all due respect, when you asked Jake if he agreed with castration, did you realize you were asking the wrong person! Of course he is going to disagree and he will come up with every excuse to refute that as a solution., "there area so many types of offenders, etc". Jake went on to further comment that castration is "cruel and unusual punishment"-Does he fail to realize how CRUEL AND UNUSUAL it is for a grown man to lust after children and to act on those desires! Then he even had the audacity to say that this is not his problem but the parents problem! The fact that it has become our problem by way of default is equally disturbing. As parents we have so much to worry about with our children and this just adds to the pile. Why are you even giving this man air time? So I can better understand his plight! Let him tell that to a counselor-this man is now going to make money off of his book based on the crime he committed-isn't there a law that says you can't do that! What a crazy and unjust society we live in! I don't want to here his excuses! Castrate him via removal or drugs-preferably the former, but don't give him the free right to try to logically explain his problem. Let him help those like himself, within the walls of a prison so people like him can never hurt children again. Lastly, your rate of recidivism stats were so powerful and strong yet Jake continued to try to wiggle his way out of castration as an option, (maybe medically only)! The numbers tell all! Caastration is obviously one of the best solutions to this problem! Stop craddlying these men and enabling them. These men have a big problem-let's fix it for them!

    September 6, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  4. suhail khan

    castration well may be looking for or looking into other avenues just as find a cure medicine easier said then done.but by marking them and putting there whereabouts on our lab top of GPS is not solving anything.In 1980 USA only had about 500 HIV/AIDS cases but by cornering them of putting them in walled compound with a taboo attached and thinking it was just a gay thing and not looking for medicines or researching now that figure has in millions affected millions die do the math apply your common sense

    September 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  5. jacqueline grosse

    I do not understand your comment however I do have a response to your initial sentence. If you heard Dr. Berlin today he said that sexual offenders have an excess amount of testosterone therefore making it difficult to control their urges. Ironically, he said nothing about it being a crime of power rather than a crime of sex. In fact, he even went on to say that castration (both surgical removal and drug induced castration) has proven effective to help control the urges and reduce the sexual offenders behavior. Also, did you hear the rate of recidivism stats? When castration is performed the rate of recidivism is 1 in 50-but when it is not performed, the rate of recidivism is 40 out of 50! The stats speak for themself. I am going to guess that you don't have children. It's a whole new ball game Leah when you do.

    September 7, 2009 at 1:29 am |
  6. Ash

    If a sexual offender is castrated will they loose all urges, or become psychotic because of the loss of hormones?

    September 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  7. Sam Caldwell

    I have known a gentleman who went through with chemical castration. He eventually did re-offend because he "felt nothing," as he described it. By contrast I know many other registered sexual offenders who are successfully living their lives. Many of them committed their crimes long before sex offender registration.

    See, where the Texas Department of State Health Services cites statistics CNN does not report.... According to a 2004 study, most sex offenders WILL NOT reoffend given professional treatment. As a registered sex offender whose crimes occurred in 1993 and 1994, every day I live proves this point.

    In the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Sex Offender Treatment Program there is a goal: No More Victims. That goal is the goal of myself and those with whom I associate as a registered sex offender living in Texas.

    September 7, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  8. Ryan

    If anything molestation is a mental issue and should be treated as such. Most sexual deviancy is a result of a tramatic upbringing. We need to get to the core of the problem.

    You can't take all the food out of a fat guys fridge and expect him not to drive to McDonalds behind your back.

    September 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  9. Ryan

    There are different types of sexual offenders. Child molestors are not doing it for a power trip. There is no power in manipulating a child. It's a condition resulting from a variety of sources from childhood tragedy, to personal issues. Face it, humans are complex. There is no simple answer for a complex problem.

    September 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  10. Dodie ~ California

    In order for the sex offender to change they have to do the following:

    1. Fully look at their behaviors
    2. Take responsibility for their behaviors
    3. Grow up! (They target children as they are emotionally the same age)

    When they do the above, they will most often see themselves as a monster and feel guilty. Only then, can the healing begin.
    The problem is most people are stuck on step 1 or 2, therefore, change will never happen!!!

    Castrating them will possibly make them murders since a sex crime is a crime of violence and power.. If we castrate them, we MUST keep them in prison!

    @ Leah!

    You are absolutely correct!!!

    September 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  11. Betty Phillips

    Yes, I am a firm believer in castration for sexual offenders and if it keeps them from wanting to destroy our children both boys and girls, then I say bring out the chopping block and let the knife fall.

    September 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  12. jacqueline grosse

    Good question but they are not performing a frontal lobotomy-they do not go 'psychotic'-they simply don't have the very strong and inappropriate urge to molest children (according to the stats).

    September 8, 2009 at 2:26 am |
  13. jacqueline grosse

    The statement "non violent child abusers" is an oxymoron-any form of child abuse is violent-does a child have to be beaten for the act to be considered 'violent'? They will be emotionally traumatized and that Don, is violent.
    I do like the prison idea though-just keep them there. If they are to reform and potentially 'do good', let them do it behind bars so children can remain safe.

    September 8, 2009 at 2:32 am |
  14. jacqueline grosse

    It was rather difficutl reading your comment, but I think I got the gist of what you were trying to say. First of all, by informing the public of the whereabouts of these sexual offenders, you may not think it helps the offenders, but it does help the general public. Furthermore, hopefully it will be sobering for the sex offenders to know that everyone who has access to a computer now knows what they did. Why keep their vile behavior a secret? Also, you obviously have no idea how much money (if you are an american citizen), how much of your money, tax payers money, has gone to not only making sure these offenders have a roof over their head and 3 squares a day, but the money goes toward rehabilitation and research as well, just to name a few. Again, castration is proven, I emphasize that word, proven very effective. Why not use it? It works.

    September 8, 2009 at 2:48 am |
  15. suhail

    jacqueline grossse
    yes mam i am a US citizen
    further more a certified PEER TO PEER educator HIV/AIDS a public awareness program how 2 deal aids and hiv and live with it or how 2 spend your life with an infected partner
    have met a lot sex offender cause we used to go to prison system to train inmates so they can pass out the message to other inmates and if u would go through my old paragraph i have given figures just trying to say by neglecting how it spread
    any ways i understand your opinion its yours
    and i respect it and hopefully u understand what i am trying 2 say

    September 8, 2009 at 9:36 am |
  16. Sam

    I find the very suggestion of castration humorous if not ridiculous. Very much like cutting the hands of a thief with the objective of stopping him from stealing, forgetting that the thief could diversify and find other ways of extortion. To achieve results we must first find ways of identifying people with such tendencies early on. Severe or extreme punishment is critical. Most importantly we must work with such people, work with them from the inside to appreciate the depravity of their acts and provide tools for them to become reformed humans.

    September 8, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  17. David

    I understand that this may initially appear to be a long letter and you may not feel like reading it in its entirety. However, please take the time to read all of it as you will eventually see, there is an opportunity to address two issues that have never really been addressed in the past. I feel that those issues being addressed will generate a lot of public interest.

    • My first goal is to inform you how very difficult and almost impossible it is to get help for men who have been sexually abused as children.
    • My second goal is to inform you how easy it is to become a lifetime registered sex offender by viewing internet porn. This can even take place if a person is on a free site that states that all models are of legal age. This is the number one growing addiction in the world. The sex offender registration list is growing faster then ever before and is completely out of focus with these issues.

    Please allow me to share with you my own history with living with sexual abuse for the first 21 years of my life and how difficult it was for me, as a man to finally get help.

    From as early as I can remember I was subjected to sexual assaults and sexual abuse from a Sunday school teacher from my church. I was forced to attend church four times a week. I hated being forced to attend simply due to the fact that I knew that at each visit I would be forced into sexual acts. I tried to inform my father and pastor of the abuse to only be told that they each thought I was making it up. The abuse continued until I was fourteen years of age. He was finally caught and prosecuted for the same acts to other children nearly 20 years later.

    At age fourteen I left home to live with a school teacher who I considered a father figure. For the first six months things were great. I learned to love him as the father which I felt I never had as a younger child. Then one day I shared with him about my sexual abuse which started off my worse nightmare and nearly my death.

    His name was Bob Barker, just like on television. He started showing me adult movies at first then progressed to touching my private areas. Within a short time he was completely sexually assaulting me. I was so confused and blamed myself for what was happening. He would tell me that he loved me as a son but then abuse me.

    In time he was shooting me in child porn movies and started incorporating other young boys from his school to be involved in the movies. Then he moved on to having adult men abusing me in the movies and often had me tied up while they would rape me.

    After a few years I knew I needed to get out of the situation, but as he would since my feelings on leaving he would threaten me with by telling me if I left he would kill me and then himself. I believed him and lived in constant fear even though somehow I still loved him.

    On one occasion, I was tied up, blindfolded and gagged while he had invited three of his male adult friends from out of town to be part of a video. He filmed them repeatedly raping me and putting me through extreme pain to the point I was gong through being in and out of consciousness. I remember coming waking up to the worse pain possible as they raped me with a base ball bat. They tore me so bad that I could feel my blood all around me as I prayed that I could quickly die to stop the intense pain. The next thing I remembered was waking up in a locked closet, soaked in my own blood and feeling the intense pain from my ordeal. I kept quite for fear that they would return and hurt me again. I was left in the closet with only diapers for my bleeding for three days.

    I finally escaped at the age of twenty one. I never stopped loving him as a father figure and always felt that everything had always been my fault.

    As a result of my first twenty one years of life, I had lots of problems with life and found myself suffering from sexual addiction. I hated myself and knew I needed help. I thought it would be easy to get help for my life’s traumas and problems but I was wrong.
    I started calling every place listed for dealing with victims of sexual trauma and abuse only to find out that they do not allow men into their programs. Their reasoning was that it would be too hard on the women in the programs if a male was present.

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But I didn’t give up hope. I expanded my search into the cities, one being St. Louis Mo. Again I was always told the same thing that they didn’t allow men. This is still a very big problem to this day. I only know of a handful of Programs in the United States that offer help for sexually abused men. But to get into their programs you need very good insurance.

    I finally started getting the help I sought years later at a hospital in New Orleans, LA. I had insurance at the time. That hospital is River Oaks Hospital. There are still only a handful of programs/hospitals available for men to this day.

    Without help many of us resort to addictions to help us survive our ordeals. I am not alone. I started a support group for men at our small town hospital and within a few weeks, I had to expand it due to the large number of men speaking out for their first times ever.

    Many of them were struggling with sexual acting out behaviors, internet porn addictions, and various other bad behaviors. They too could not find anywhere for them to find help for the trauma in their lives.

    My personal addiction before receiving help was an addiction to internet porn. This in itself is one of the fastest growing addictions in the world today. You may find a story also in what I am about to share with you.

    I married the woman that helped me to escape from Bob Barker. We were very happy until our sex lives slowed down. Keep in mind that for me, “sex equaled love”. At least that is what I perceived from all my years of abuse. When this happened I found myself trying to deal with all my problems through internet porn.

    Internet porn was free and it took my mind off my real issues. However, it I became so addicted that I started missing work, neglecting my wife and my children. I found myself on the computer every chance I could get to be alone. I would stay up all night instead of sleeping. I knew it was a problem but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. After every episode of being on the computer I would pray that I could stop and be normal.

    I always made sure that any free site I went to have an age disclaimer stating that all the models were of legal age. So I felt that what I was viewing was at least legal.

    One day I took my computer into the shop because I was unable to open my folders. I asked them to look into the problem, and even requested they review my folder which held all my photos, many of which had been downloaded from the adult free sites.

    The next day the state police arrived at my door and said that they had my computer and felt that there may be child porn on it. I reassured them that all the sites I had visited had a disclaimed of age.

    I was later charged with possession of child porn. They had obtained three photos out of 12,000 that they stated came from what they believed to be from a country that legal age there was less than 18 years of age.

    I started to see that God was answering my prayers for help.

    I was in trial for almost three years. The judge wanted them to find a misdemeanor due to the facts that the sites did have disclaimers and that there was so few photo’s compared to all the photos on the computer. However there was no legal way to classify it as such. They were never able to prove the models age but a pediatrician stated that the model appeared to be between the ages of 16 or 17. After the long three years of fighting I finally was found guilty of child porn which carried a long time on probation, therapy, as well as having to register as a sex offender for the entirety of my life. I have never been able to return to work also as a result.

    I am 46 years old and the offence occurred over 13 years ago. I now help others struggling with internet porn as a group facilitator. I am married and have four daughters.

    The issue is this!! Yes my addiction to the internet porn was destructive to every one I knew and to myself. But I truly assumed the models were of age and it was verified through their disclaimers. However when the trial was over I was registering as a sexual predator and sex offender for the rest o0f my life. Were as in Illinois if you actually are found guilty of fondling a child or direct sexual assault to a child you only register for 10 years.

    The list of sex offenders is growing hugely due to this addiction that many have to free internet porn. We serve stiffer penality then individuals that actually have performed a sexual act on a child. I wish there was a way to somehow look at those who are finding themselves addicted to internet porn, clear up the misleading site disclaimers, and if someone finds themselves in a situation similar to mine, that those cases could be handled differently so as that they would not have to be listed as a sex offender, but instead be listed in some other form.

    I would be more then happy to discuss other similar cases with you or even more of my own if you wish to contact me.

    No help for male victims of childhood sexual abuse and how easy it is for those people who are involved with the fastest growing addiction to become lifetime registered sex offenders.

    September 11, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  18. k strand

    ILLINOIS Sex Offender registry horrors,Where is the ACLU? by ;Kristin Perk .

    My husband is on the sex offender registry in Illinois, for 15 years for having a consensual reltionship with me ,his wife,when I was 16. He is lumped in with pedophiles,rapists and the worst kind of perverts. We have three children and my husband cant keep a job(he has a P.H.D),he cant pick up our kids from school,weve been thrown out of our home twice because we live by a school and police monitor our home. Why in Gods name isnt any commom sense prevailing around this issue and start letting people off the registry who are not a public threat? This is destroying our family,our childrens well being and my father in law( a decorated war veteran) has depleted his pension supporting us. We have testified before illinois congress,had several favorable artice on us from the Chicago Tribune, yet they wont let my husband Mark off the registry. He only has a misdimeanor for being with me,his devoted wife of 5 years now . we were married by the same judge,(Thomas E. Nowinski,) who gave Mark the misdimeanor. Please,please someone help us. Neighbors stare at our home,people think a rapist lives in the home. Marks oldest son(from a previous marriage) was assaulted in Hyde Park,defending Mark from fellow classmates calling Mark a

    September 14, 2009 at 12:14 am |
  19. Gordon

    If males get surgically castrated for committing rape(i.e. those males over 21), what would a Female Sex Offender receive for raping a male? Yes, believe it or not, women have, on occasion, raped males! Would their ovaries be removed? In order to keep the law fair, and not a Double Standard, Women should not be excluded based on their gender. Why not order mandatory Transgenderism upon all those that commit these offenses. I'm sure the suicide rate would be high, but isn't that what we're all going for, by labeling those people as Sex Offenders, preventing them from normalizing their lives (after prison), through neighborhood notifications, Media Spotlights and so on...The truth is, that castrating a Male has an unconscience eroticism and provides a power base, because as males, this is our weakest target area of our bodies and can drastically change and/or alter our lives forever. Sadism comes to mind, for those with serious intent on passing a law that would allow it. After all, did the U.S. House Of Representatives pass a bill forcing anyone who calls the President 'a liar', to have his tongue cut out?
    The bottom line is, we are not really doing anything constructive to rehabilitate or even prevent this type of behavior from developing in society. Violence and sex on T.V., Video games, disfunctional households. Fix these problems and prevent rape down the line because, as in most cases, rape is an act of violence, not just over-active glands. When are we going to really understand the Human Mind? I never heard of a single Rape occuring where a MIND was not involved?

    September 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  20. Jeffrey M.

    I know of a facitlity that neuters mentally handicapped boys and men because they are in the presence of mentally handicapped women. They do this so the women don't have to get pregnant and deal with a child when they are children themselves. Why not do the same with sex offenders. I would be afraid if I were one of them. If they think they might be castrated if they commit a sex crime it might change their mind. But, I don't think so. But why shouldn't their sex drive be taken away from them? In other countries they do a lot worse. We should do the same and watch the sex crime rate fall dramatically.

    September 20, 2009 at 11:19 am |