Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 18, 2005
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senate Passes Ellis Board of Pardons & Paroles Meetings Legislation

(Austin)// The Texas Senate today approved legislation, SB 548 by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Ellis), to ensure the Board of Pardons & Paroles at least meet via conference call to make life and death clemency decisions.

Committee Substitute to Senate Bill 548 arose from the fact that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles currently makes decisions of life and death without having to meet. In many capital clemency cases, the Board merely faxes in their decision to execute.

"No matter your stance on capital punishment, I think all Texans can agree that you shouldn't be able to fax in someone's life," said Ellis.

Texas is the only state, where the Board of Pardon's and Paroles acts as the final decision maker in capital cases and does not require the board to meet. Committee Substitute to Senate Bill 548 requires the Board of Pardons and Paroles to at least meet via conference call or video conference when making decisions of life and death, and increase public insight by making these decisions available to the public.

Senator Ellis worked closely with Governor Rick Perry's office to draft the legislation to ensure controlled capital clemency hearings.

"I believe this is a strong compromise," said Ellis. "We went over this bill line-by-line with Governor Perry's office, the Board of Pardons and Paroles and criminal justice reform advocates to ensure we are tackling the heart of the matter."

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