Sex offenders - Chemical castration or Pardon?


Sexual offenders have been big news in Poland recently. Last Friday Polish MPs passed a bill which would permit chemical castration of those who commit sexual offences against those under 15 years of age. Incestuous rape and internet grooming (what a euphemism - it's as if predators are virtually brushing the hair of their potential victims) of a minor will also ensure offenders' manhood is considerably halted in its hunt for youthful prey.

Critics claim it is a medieval way of dealing with an admittedly grave problem and is merely political point scoring by politicians. Supporters of the law claim that Poland's penal code (e.g. maximum 12 years for rape) on sex crimes is already too light and needs bolstering to act as a stronger deterrent.

The second major news item concerning sexual offences, and one which has certainly received lots of press worldwide has been the arrest in Switzerland of Roman Polanski, one of Poland's most famous film directors (Oscar winner for 'The Pianist'). He was detained under an international arrest warrant issued by the U.S. for having unlawful sex with a minor, Samantha Geimer, in Los Angeles in 1978.

He claims she consented, though he pleaded guilty to the latter charge. She claims she was drugged with pills and alcohol during a photo-shoot in Jack Nicholson's home. Now Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs "intends to appeal to President Obama to show clemency to Polanski for his services to Polish culture", according to Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

So if Polanski had had unlawful sex with a 13 year old girl in Poland he would possibly face a maximum sentence of 12 years in jail and have to undergo chemical castration before he was released (note: he hasn't been tried cause he fled the U.S. before the trial started). Sikorski voted in favour of strengthening the Polish bill last Friday morning. As Polanski has made some great films and and is regarded a cultural icon in Poland and abroad, the Polish government want the U.S. to put away their orange jumpsuit and shackles. Samantha Geimer also wants him to be forgiven though she would prefer he returned to the States and faced the consequences of his actions.

Chemical castration is not, as one may imagine, the process of chopping off a willy by chemical means rather than with the local butcher's knife. The procedure lowers sexual libido and is reversible once treatment ceases. The idea is to try and reduce the recidivist rate of offenders. Those who serve time for sexual crimes would have to undergo the procedure 6 months prior to being released. Polish Radio reports that "Several states in the United States employ chemical castration as a means of punishing sex offenders – California state law mandates the treatment for first-time sex offenders of victims under 13 years of age."

Pedophilia is a term often misused for all sexual offences committed to minors. Hebephilia is the correct term for sexual preferences towards pubescent males and females, ephebophilia for those with preferences towards those with mid to late adolescents. Pedophilia is deemed to be a grave mental disorder, whereas if you are 16 in Spain,having consensual sex with a 13 year old is currently legal.

My question is whether Californian State law could currently apply chemical castration treatment to Polanski for an offence committed 31 years ago?

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