Sex offender study advances, bill to ban gays from national guard stalls
A proposed study looking at alternative methods of treatment for violent sex offenders has passed subcommittee, and the House Rules Committee has killed a proposal that would have banned homosexuals from serving in the Virginia National Guard. Craig Carper reports.
For several years, Republican Senator Emmett Hanger of Augusta has proposed voluntary castration of sex offenders as an alternative to more costly forms of treatment after they have been released from prison.
Hanger: Right now, we’re being really forced because of the catchment net that we have out there and the line of sex offenders that are coming out of prison, we’re being forced to have to build an additional facility, 50 million and another 30 million a year to operate it. That’s not the end of it. If it spikes on up, we’d have to build another facility.
Hanger wants a study that would aim to cut costs by examining how sex offenders are handled now in the Commonwealth and proposing alternatives. He emphasizes that voluntary castration is just one element he wants discussed.
Hanger: I think we would have constitutional issues, really, if we were to try to enforce castration without voluntary, but I know, in fact I've had contact with individuals that would voluntarily commit to a program like this, hoping that it would help them. They probably would end up in a closely-monitored community-based program to make sure that they were, indeed, their behavior was corrected and that they could live in society, be reintegrated into society without these problems.
Nobody really wants to say they're supporting physical castration, but for the experts to take a look at it, I think yes, it should be something that they look at and there certainly have been studies and experiences in other states and other nations where it’s been proven to be a successful treatment regimen.
The bill has now been amended and reported by Senate subcommittee to omit the word 'castration' and substitute 'all appropriate forms of treatment.' Should the bill ultimately pass the General Assembly, the Department of Behavioral Health, the Crime Commission and the Office of the Attorney General will study the issue over the next year and determine if castration is an appropriate form of treatment.
In other news, the House Rules committee has killed a proposal that would ban gay men and women from serving in the Virginia National Guard.
Republican Delegate Bob Marshall of Prince William introduced the bill as a response to the recent congressional repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Republican Delegate Bill Janis of Henrico motioned to kill the bill, saying that while he believes repealing "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" was a mistake, giving Virginian members of the National Guard a different set of rules than those from other states would be harmful to unit cohesion.
The Committee voted to kill the bill as well as another bill that would have specifically prohibited discrimination against homosexuals in Virginia’s National Guard.
Democratic Delegate Joe Morrissey of Henrico introduced the bill as a response to Delegate Marshall’s legislation.
Morrissey: I sat there through Delegate Marshall’s bill and I felt like I had gone back in time 62 years, that it was 1948 and that Strom Thurmond was running against the then current President of the United States. I have never seen such backwards Neanderthal thinking in my entire life.
Morrissey objected to the decision to kill his bill before he could speak to it, calling it disgraceful and a blow to the process.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square