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Oklahoma Senate OKs Castration Bill

March 3, 1998

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Senate has passed a bill that would make the state the first to allow judges to order surgical castration of rapists, sodomizers and child molesters.

The Senate voted 37-10 in favor of the measure Monday after its author, Sen. Frank Shurden, argued that serious sex criminals have ``a driving sex urge that makes them animals.″

``It’s time to treat them like animals,″ he said.

The bill now goes to the House.

The measure would require a positive DNA test before castration could be ordered. A jury also would have to find two aggravating circumstances, including rape of a child under 14, sodomy on a child under 16, a crime that is especially ``serious, atrocious or cruel,″ a crime causing significant physical injury or a crime is committed upon one victim two or more times within 24 hours.

Among other states, Texas allows voluntary surgical castration. Various forms of castration laws have been enacted in California, Montana, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia, said Nancy Pellow, a Senate researcher.

Critics of Shurden’s bill argued that sex crimes are tied to violence, not sexual desire.

State Sen. Cal Hobson said science supports the argument that physical or chemical castration ``will not change the destructive pattern″ of a sex criminal’s mind.

And state Sen. Penny Williams said the proposal was ``clearly unconstitutional″ because it applied to only one sex.

The bill permits inmates convicted of serious sex crimes to volunteer for castration. In return, they could get favorable consideration for parole.

Gov. Frank Keating has not announced whether he would sign the bill if it passes the House.