Publication Date



43 p. ; An outstanding student paper selected as a Honors Paper.


Recently, several states have passed legislation allowing or directing state officials to impose treatment, sometimes referred to as chemical castration, on particular classes of sex offenders. Several other states have attempted to pass similar legislation. Such legislation raises multiple intricate issues including the efficacy of the treatment, the responsibilities of medical professionals implementing the provisions of the statutes, and the constitutionality of the statutes. This comment addresses several of the legal and ethical issues surrounding state legislation that requires chemical treatment of sex offenders as a condition of their release from incarceration. The first section will set out basic information on chemical treatment of sexual deviance, the general efficacy of this treatment, and the efficacy of the treatment as it will likely be applied by the statutes in force. Some medical ethical issues implicated by the efficacy of the treatment will also be explored. The second section will address two related issues of consent. Legal and ethical requirements for informed consent may raise several ethical and policy issues for medical professionals implementing statutory provisions. Consent may also affect a sex offender's ability to assert constitutional claims regarding chemical treatment. While many constitutional questions are implicated by these statutes, this comment will focus on the impact of consent on claims based on substantive due process and cruel and unusual punishment. Finally, this comment will explore general policy issues surrounding legislation authorizing chemical treatment for sex offenders.


University of New Mexico School of Law

Document Type

Student Paper



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