“The punishment of criminals should be of use; when a man is hanged he is good for nothing.” – Voltaire
Should mandatory sterilization be considered for sex offenders? Since there are only 4 purposes in which a punishment is carried out, we can do away with protracted and otiose discussion by going straight into considering them.
Incarceration works the same way as to how detention applies to an insolent kid. They will be forcefully given the time to self-reflect on their actions or omissions. With that in mind, it makes no sense for a judge to adjure a punishment that is irreversible. Bear in mind that sex offenders include sexual offenses which varies from trivial crimes which are exonerative to serious cases such as child rape. In law, morality, and also economically, it would be best to give offenders of the former category the chance to expiate their guilt.
The idea of retribution is now anachronistic. While in the eyes of the society, certain type of offenders deserve to be punished, we rarely see written judgment passed with ratio or obiter which states retribution as one of the reasons. More and more countries are even abrogating death sentences. The law has a normative role to play in the society. It would be counter-productive for the law to allow such primitive reasoning to be a canker to society.
This is probably the most common reason used by the prosecution to allow heavy sentences to be passed to a convict. Deterring a criminal from committing an odious crime will, more often than not, outweigh the importance of his individual interest. However, it is already status quo that most countries have heavy and punitive sentences for rapists. Would it be necessary for a rapist to be convicted for 20 years imprisonment, and permanently deprive him of his right to even, say, start a family once he has duly served his sentence? Some countries even implement whipping in addition to imprisonment. The psychological fear instilled in a convict through pain is far more effective than sterilization.
While many countries have already abrogated death sentences, many others still practice them. The reason is simple. There are certain crimes which are too heinous that the only permanent way to prevent it is to take away his life. However, it is a flawed analogy to equate sterilization to death sentence, thinking that they can prevent certain types of crime to ever happen again. It is no guarantee that sterilization can stop a recidivist from committing the same sexual offences. It could be a psychological phenomenon which cannot be dealt with physical deprivation. In other words, sterilization will bring permanent harm to those who want to expiate their crimes, but will be of no help to stop recidivists from committing those sexual offences.