It's all in the criminal's head
Texas Attorney General Dan Morales and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles have opened a definite can of worms in considering whether a convicted child molester can be surgically castrated, at his own request, at the expense of Texas taxpayers.
Larry Don McQuay, a former San Antonio school bus driver who claims to have molested as many as 240 children, will soon be released from state prison because of "good time credit." McQuay served six years of an eight-year sentence for having oral sex with a 6-year-old San Antonio boy.
The inmate, who has threatened to kill the boy who testified against him and the boy's family, claims he will molest other children if he is not castrated. He believes his sex drive will be diminished if he is castrated, thereby ensuring that he will not commit future molestations.
The first part of McQuay's statement is likely true. A high percentage of child molesters who are released from prison eventually end up back in prison for the same crimes.
One reason is that child molesters often are able to plea bargain their cases and spend a relatively short time in prison.
McQuay was able to plea bargain his case from "aggravated sexual assault" to "indecency." If he had been convicted of the assault charge, he would not be eligible for early release.
However, there is little evidence to back up the second part of McQuay's statement, that castration will reduce the chances he will molest more children.
According to William Winslade, a UH law professor and a bioethicist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, the medical community has "mixed sentiment" about the effects of castration.
Another Houston physician suggests that although castration could reduce McQuay's sex drive, the surgery would not remove the deviant part of his brain that urges him to pursue young children for sexual purposes.
The attorney general ruled that the state "cannot make castration a requirement for release." Morales seems more concerned about the state's liability than he is about preventing future crimes.
When it appeared McQuay would be released to a halfway house in Houston, nearby residents suggested a nonsterile surgical solution to the state's dilemma.
Surgical castration may seem to be a handy solution to a difficult problem. But psychiatrists and doctors agree that much of the problem lies between the ears and not between the legs of the offenders.
What the state of Texas would most likely end up with is a huge bill for castrating pedophiles, and a long list of many of those same pedophiles returning to prison for committing the same offenses.