Senator Frank Shurden is urging Governor Keating to sign a bill that would authorize chemical castration for certain sex offenders in Oklahoma. The Henryetta lawmaker said if this bill becomes law, it could prevent countless sex crimes against women and children.
"In Europe, countries that already allow castration of sex offenders have shown that not only is it an effective deterrent, but it has also resulted in a dramatic reduction in repeat offenses," explained Senator Shurden.
"A study done in Germany showed a 3 percent recidivism rate compared to 46 percent for those who were not castrated. If those sex offenders hadn't undergone that procedure, there probably would have been hundreds, if not thousands more victims," said Shurden.
Senate Bill 987 would authorize chemical castration for a conviction of first-degree rape, second-degree rape, or forcible sodomy. According to the bill, chemical castration could be required as a condition for parole, suspended or deferred sentences. Subsequent offenses would allow judges or juries to impose surgical castration.
"We've included language in the bill requiring a positive identification through DNA testing before surgical castration could be imposed. It also requires at least two aggravating circumstances, such as rape of a child under age 14, a particularly cruel sex crime, or a juvenile record of a sex offense or serious physical injury to the victim before that could be done," said Shurden.
The Governor's office said so far 60 percent of the calls regarding the bill have favored a veto, but Senator Shurden believes the calls don't represent the majority of Oklahomans. He also disagrees with organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union who oppose the bill on the grounds that it is "cruel and unusual punishment."
"Cruel and unusual punishment is a grown man raping a three-year-old child, serving a few years in prison, then getting out and raping another child. That's what I want to stop. I believe SB 987 can do that," said Shurden.
Other critics warn castration could cause the offender to become even more violent in his attacks against women and children. "I don't buy that argument, because it is a proven fact that reducing testosterone levels will result in reduced aggression and violent behavior," said Shurden.
"In the United States, I've seen studies showing recidivism rates of 75 percent and higher for some sex offenders. That means for most sex offenders, there's an extremely high chance that as soon as they get out of prison, there will be more victims. SB 987 could be the one thing that stops them," said Shurden.
Senator Shurden said the Governor has until June 8th to sign the bill into law, otherwise it will automatically die.
"I believe we can protect thousands of Oklahomans from these sexual predators if we have this law on the books. I'm asking all concerned citizens to call Governor Keating at 405-521-2342 and ask him to sign SB 987 into law."
Oklahomans can also ask the Governor to sign SB 987 by faxing him at 405-521-3353, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.