Texas Governor Signs Life Without Parole Bill

Sen. Rick Perry's office released this statement today to commemorate his signing of S. 60, passed by the Texas legislature, which will allow juries to consider life without the possiblility of parole in death penalty cases.

Under the current system, because the only choices are death or life with parole, jurors may be more likely to vote for death.

The law will apply those convicted of capital murder after Sept. 1, 2005. Background on the bill is here.

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    Re: Texas Governor Signs Life Without Parole Bill (none / 0) (#1)
    by Patrick on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:10 PM EST
    In california all the lifer's commit the in custody hits and such on the other inmates. Nothing to lose, so to speak. I don't think it's the greatest solution, it increases the crimes in the prison, but who on the left really cares about that as long as the death penalty is used less right? I mean killing someone is definitely worse than sodomizing them.

    So, Texas finally enters the 20th Century. About time. Maybe now, some real justice will be served down there.

    ...and more people - fellow inmates, guards and/or civilians should a convict escape - will die. But hey, at least we can say Texas is now "enlightened." We'll all sleep better tonight I'm sure.

    I've talked to several people who are knowledgeable about the death penalty in Texas and they're a bit concerned with the new law. First of all, it will be more difficult to get clients to plead to capital life if attorneys can't sell them on the (remote as it may be) possiblity that they will be paroled, so more cases will go to trial. Second, attorneys aren't allowed to talk about the costs associated with life imprisonment versus infliction of the death penalty, so there is a fear that there will be little to no change in the frequency with which Texas juries inflict the death penalty coupled with the uptick in the number of capital cases that go to trial, which will result in more death sentences.

    texasguy, that all seems a little far-fetched. I would note that the death-penalty-happy Houston D.A.'s office is against the law, which almost certainly means the law is a good one.

    Re: Texas Governor Signs Life Without Parole Bill (none / 0) (#6)
    by BigTex on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:11 PM EST
    If you look at the spatial frequency of the death penalty, you can conclude that the incidence of seath penalty will not drop significantly. The death penalty isn't imposed randomly across the state, it's pockets of areas that give the death penalty, along with the stray case here and there. Neither category is likely to change. The areas that give a stray death penalty tend to impose it only for the worst of crimes, that's not going to change. It's an emotional response, not the feeling that 99 years is insufficient to punish the criminal. The pockets that give the death penalty routienley will continue to do so. So much of the issuing of the death penalty has to do with the mind set of the jury. Texasguy makes a good point about not copping a plea. With 99 years (or life with possibility of parole) there was a chance to get out of prison after 30-35 years. Maybe in the pocket areas there will be some increase in pleas for LW/OP, but then again, that will take juries to start assigning LW/OP, and not the death penalty. In the areas that don't have a high incidence of the death penalty are not likely to see pleas for LW/OP because the usual sentences are not as harsh. Even if juries start regularally recommending LW/OP the defendant doesn't have any incentive to plea, since the likelyhood of a harsher sentence is small. In the end, this law will end up with harsher sentencing overall. Incidence of the death penalty will not change much, and prison sentences will increase because juries who would normially give the maximum punishment short of death have a harsher sentence to recommend. The left ahs gotten what it wanted here, the question is will they be happy with it 10 years from now? --BigTex