OKLAHOMA CITY (December 8, 2011) — Rapists and child molesters could face long-term confinement in a mental institution after completing a prison sentence under legislation filed by state Rep. John Trebilcock.
House Bill 2190 would allow sex offenders to be involuntarily confined in a mental institution upon release from the prison system.
“As we have seen with the Penn State scandal, a single child molester is capable of devastating the lives of countless innocent children,” said Trebilcock, R-Broken Arrow. “These criminals typically remain a public-safety threat even after completing a prison sentence and it is necessary to ensure they are not allowed to return to the communities they have victimized.”
Under the proposal, when a sex offender nears the end of his prison sentence, a prosecutor can seek a jury hearing to have the criminal civilly confined.
If the jury finds there is “clear and convincing” evidence a sex offender does not have control over his actions and is likely to commit similar crimes upon release, the convict can then be confined to a mental institution upon completion of his prison sentence.
The bill is modeled on laws in Kansas and New York that have been upheld in court.
“Because civil confinement provides treatment, not punishment, the courts have ruled that double jeopardy does not apply in these situations,” Trebilcock said.
In addition to recent national scandals involving alleged pedophiles, Trebilcock said several major cases in Oklahoma show the need for a civil-confinement law.
After his release from prison, Marcus Berry, a two-time convicted sex offender, kidnapped a two-year-old girl from her front yard in Tulsa.
After Bobby Stine was arrested near Jay, Oklahoma and accused of molesting a 14-year-old, Stine confessed to having committed sexual crimes with multiple children prior to the arrest.
“Sadly, there are numerous cases demonstrating the need to require civil confinement of child rapists,” Trebilcock said. “My legislation will give prosecutors the ability to keep these dangerous and violent criminals off the streets.”
House Bill 2190 can be taken up at the start of the 2012 session of the Oklahoma Legislature next February.