Tue | Feb 20, 2018

Oklahoma considers chemical castration for sex offenders

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Oklahoma state Rep. Rick West poses for a photo in the House chamber at the Capitol in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP):

A Republican lawmaker is pushing to add Oklahoma to the list of states in which so-called chemical castration is an option for certain sex offenders, albeit an option that rarely gets used.

State Republican Rick West, a first-term lawmaker from Heavener, said he filed the bill at the request of a constituent and that he fully intends to push for its passage, though it's likely to face strong opposition, even in a conservative state with a tough-on-crime reputation.

If approved, Oklahoma would join at least seven other states that have laws allowing courts to order chemical treatments that reduce male testosterone for certain sex offenders, although experts say the punishment is rarely carried out and one described it as a "half fantasy" version of criminal justice.

"When I knocked on that guy's door when I was campaigning, he said: 'I'll vote for you if you'll run this bill,'" West said.

West, who has introduced a measure that would allow tobacco back inside state prisons, said he's confident his constituents would support efforts to prevent sex crimes, especially against children.

Under the bill, anyone convicted of a sexually violent offence could be required, as a condition of release, to take the drugs designed to reduce a male offender's testosterone and sexual libido.

A second offence would require the treatment unless a court determined it wouldn't be effective.

California became the first state to pass such a law in 1996, and since then at least six other states have passed laws allowing it in some form.

Oklahoma's American Civil Liberties Union chapter is concerned about West's proposal, saying that requiring unwilling offenders to undergo such treatments likely violates the Constitution's 8th Amendment.