An Oklahoma Republican is itching to bring a controversial new law to the state.
If state Rep. Rick West gets his way, chemical castration will become a viable sentencing option for sex offenders. It’s going to be a tough fight, however. Only seven states in the U.S. have laws on the books promoting chemical castration.
West said he’s acting at the behest of a constituent.
“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.
Is he going too far?
Activists argue that chemical castration is a cruel “fantasy” pushed into seriously disturbed individuals. The process isn’t nearly as clearcut as its name implies. Drugs can mute a patient’s sex drive, but they can’t erase it. To complicate matters, the drugs are far more effective with a willing participant than a defiant one.
“It’s hard to imagine this couldn’t be considered cruel or unusual,” said Oklahoma’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter spokeswoman Allie Shinn.
“I don’t want to place too much faith in the Oklahoma Legislature to avoid blatantly unconstitutional proposals, but we’re hopeful this bill, as written, is just too extreme to move.”
Frank Zimring, a law professor at University of California at Berkeley, added: “Chemical castration is half advertising slogan, half fantasy…There are chemicals which are supposed to, if dosages are maintained, reduce sex drives. That isn’t castration.”
If West’s bill is adopted, sexual offenders could potentially be ordered to undergo castration drug therapy as a condition of release. The drugs specifically target testosterone. Repeat offenders would automatically receive the treatment unless the court provided a reason why it wouldn’t be effective.
It’s hard to say if West’s bill would accomplish what he wants it to. Chemical castration is rare, even in the states where it’s legal. There’s simply not enough to data to determine its effectiveness on a population of sexual abusers.
(Source: New York Post)