Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release:
May 26, 2006
Senator Jonathan Nichols
Senator Nichols Targets Child Predators with Death Penalty, Child
Abuse Response Team
The Oklahoma Legislature has taken strong action to
combat child abuse in Oklahoma, passing a bill that would subject
child predators to the death penalty and establish the Child Abuse
Response Team (CART) within the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Nichols, author of Senate Bill 1800, said the measure would
create a statewide team of expert child abuse investigators who
will assist local law enforcement entities in handling difficult
child abuse cases.
Nichols also included Senator Jay Paul Gumm’s amendment that
subjects repeat child molesters to the death penalty. Nichols stated
that the death penalty will put Oklahoma at the forefront of strengthening
laws against child predators.
“This death penalty provision sends a clear message to child
predators in our state,” said Nichols, R-Norman. “We
will find you, we will prosecute you, and then, we will put you
“The crime of child abuse is horrible, and it is our responsibility
as lawmakers to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable and precious
citizens,” Nichols said. “The Child Abuse Response Team
will strengthen local efforts to protect children by giving local
law enforcement access to some of the most experienced child abuse
investigators in the state.”
CART will include criminal investigators as well as forensic interviewers
who are both highly trained and experienced in the area of child
abuse investigations. Operating as an on-call response team, CART
will be available at the request of local law enforcement agencies,
just as other emergency response units are available to law enforcement
Nichols believes the Child Abuse Response Team will compliment
the Kelsey Briggs Act which grants judges and the Department of
Human Services the authority to call in the OSBI to assist in local
child abuse cases.
“Now, when a judge, local police department or DHS calls
the OSBI for help in these difficult cases, OSBI can send out members
of the Child Abuse Response Team,” Nichols said. “And
this team will be made up of the very best professionals in this
critical area of child abuse investigations.”
“While it is heartbreaking that recent incidents have revealed
the need for reform in our system, I’m pleased that the legislature
has passed this measure to let our law enforcement agencies and
judicial system better protect our children,” said Nichols.
“The CART members will bring our system much-needed expertise
that will ensure cases don’t fall through cracks in the bureaucracy.”
Nichols said current law mandates that child predators be sentenced
to life without parole. Mandating life imprisonment without the
possibility of parole was made possible by Nichols when his Senate
Bill 1425 was signed into law four years ago.
The addition of the death penalty amendment provides a strong deterrent
to the crime of child molestation, while protecting the public from
child predators, Nichols added.
“This bill gives us two strong weapons to combat child abuse
in Oklahoma,” said Nichols. “And our legislature should
continue to find solutions to make our state a safer place for our
While opposition argued that the Supreme Court has already ruled
the death penalty is unconstitutional when applied to cases of rape,
Nichols believes that the Supreme Court decision cited by opponents
ruled on the issue of adult rape and not rape of a child.
“I believe that our highest Court will agree that this crime
of raping a child is so heinous and horrific that the death penalty
is a right and just punishment,” said Nichols.
The measure will now advance to the Governor’s office.
For more information, contact:
Senator Nichol's Office: (405) 521-5535