Just days ago, Adam Friedman, 46, until recently a teacher in Willimantic, Connecticut, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for second-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a minor and possession of child pornography. The charges stemmed from Friedman repeatedly having sex with a 15-year-old student who was appearing in a play he was staging.
Friedman offered the judge an alternative to him being incarcerated for so many years. He volunteered to be castrated—having his testicles removed, in order to drop his testosterone level to zero. The judge refused the offer.
While Friedman’s “surgical suggestion” might have seemed outlandish, it actually made sense, and the judge in the case (who seems to have lacked both creativity and courage) missed a rare opportunity to move the criminal justice system toward rational solutions to violent crimes. A five-year prison term, followed by castration, would have gone much, much further to keep children safe.
The data is compelling. When an injectable medication called Depo-Provera (which lasts a month per injection) is used to dramatically decrease testosterone levels in male sexual offenders, the rate of repeat offenses drops from 75 percent to 2 percent. That’s a 3,800 percent reduction. And surgical castration would presumably go even further to safeguard the community, since some sexual offenders could presumably stop Depo-Provera.
Castration exposes a man to higher rates of diabetes and other conditions. But that seems to be a reasonable risk to not only avoid years in prison, but to also dramatically reduce the risk of hurting another human being.
Elliot Solomon, the judge in this case, could have made Depo-Provera injections a condition of probation for Friedman, so that a single missed injection would trigger a jail sentence of 25 years. He could have used the facts to forge a bold new approach to criminal justice in Connecticut. Instead, he spoke of sending a message to other sexual offenders by frightening them with the prison sentence handed down to Friedman. Well, guess what? Long prison terms have done absolutely nothing to stop sex crimes. Again, 75 percent of those who spend a long time in prison for sexual offenses commit sexual offenses again.
Apparently, Solomon, who may be a good judge on other cases, is no—well—Solomon (reference King Solomon).
Of note, Depo-Provera would almost certainly be effective in curbing rates of recidivism in other violent crimes, as well. High testosterone is linked to aggression and impulse control disorders in males. In fact, I have no doubt whatsoever (as in, zero) that a tailored combination of Depo-Provera, a beta-blocker, omega-3 fatty acids and low-dose antipsychotic medication when needed could decrease recidivism for violent offenders by ten-fold if we were to deploy a state-by-state program to administer the medications to selected populations.
There is a medical model of ending violent crime that we continue to ignore, at the expense of millions of future victims. Being a judge should include being creative, wise and bold in safeguarding the community. Why couldn’t Judge Elliot Solomon find those words in his job description?
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. He is a New York Times best-selling author, and co-author, with Glenn Beck, of the upcoming book "The 7:Seven Wonders that Will Change Your Life." Dr. Ablow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.