Lawmaker speaks out about bill that would allow for chemical castration for sex offenders
POTEAU, Okla. — An Oklahoma lawmaker has proposed a bill that would allow sexually violent offenders to be released early from prison if they agree to chemical castration.
State Representative Rick West is wanting to add Oklahoma to a list of seven other states where sex offenders can get out of jail on parole if they undergo chemical castration.
The bill proposes the option for violent offenses, which according to the bill, include rape, indecent proposals, solicitation of a minor and sodomy.
“It`s a pill and you take it or a shot and it lowers your testosterone level to almost zero and it can be reversed,” West said. “What happens is when they reach that level, they`re calmer and they`re not thinking all the time what they need to do.”
West said it could put an end to repeat offenders and work better than jail time.
“A lot of these sexual offenders and these crimes, once they get out of prison, on the average, they commit two to five more times before they get caught,” West said. “So, prison is not rehabilitating these guys.”
Those with the American Civil Liberties Union disagree and said the bill goes against basic human rights.
“We have some really serious constitutional questions about this proposal,” Allie Shinn, director of external affairs for ACLU Oklahoma said. “Particularly, we are worried this is a violation of the eighth amendment. It`s hard to imagine how this couldn`t be seen as cruel and unusual punishment.”
Shinn said sex violence is about power and control, not sexual gratification. The organization is now questioning whether or not chemical castration will actually stop offenders.
“There is not really a lot of clear science on whether or not chemical castration is really effective,” Shinn said. “It`s really pseudoscience that`s aimed at theoretically at reducing sexual assault but again, there`s no evidence to indicate that that would really work.”
In response to the backfire, West said it’s only an option, which does not violate the eight amendment. The ACLU wants lawmakers to take another look.
“If we are actually interested in future sex crimes, we should be listening to what the experts say on this rather than being sidetracked by unconstitutional proposals that are unlikely to work at all,” Shinn said.
This isn’t the first time Oklahoma lawmakers are seeing a bill like this. The House and Senate passed a chemical castration bill in 2002, but the governor at the time vetoed the bill.
If the bill is eventually passed, it would go into effect on November 1.
To read the bill in its entirety, visit oklegislature.gov and search for HB 2543.