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Castration is removal of the testicles. Castration can be accomplished through surgery or drugs. Surgical castration has been used as a means of social control for hundreds of years. In the 20th century, approximately 60,000 male prisoners with mental disabilities were castrated in American prisons. Hormonal therapy to lower testosterone and thus diminish sexually deviant behavior is now the preferred method of castration in the U.S.

This is referred to as “chemical castration.” In 1996, California became the first state to enact legislation allowing the use of chemical castration as a penalty for child molestation (Penal Code section 645). This has led to the enactment of similar statutes in at least eight other states. Unlike surgical castration, chemical castration is not permanent. When the hormone medications are discontinued, the testosterone levels usually return to normal.