Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 24, 2005
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, (512) 463-0127

Texas House votes for Life Without Parole Bill by Sen. Lucio

AUSTIN, TX--Today the Texas House of Representatives voted 104 to 37 in favor of giving Texas juries the option of life without parole in capital murder cases.

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., said that through Senate Bill 60, the state will now have the ability to permanently remove dangerous criminals from our streets in cases where juries do not impose the death penalty. Jurors will now be able to impose a sentence of life without parole when there are mitigating circumstances in a capital case. If the offender is considered a future danger to society and there are no mitigating circumstances, then the jury will still be able to impose a death sentence.

"I commend the House for its overwhelming acknowledgement that Texas juries deserve this option for the safety of society," explained Sen. Lucio. "Families of victims of heinous crimes will have certainty. They will no longer fear that the offender will one day be released from prison because a life without parole sentence will be imposed."

"By the time many current prosecutors are retired, the families of victims will have to relive a horrendous crime by appearing before a parole board. That is not justice and they just don't deserve that sort of treatment in Texas," added Sen. Lucio.

Sen. Lucio commended the work of the House Sponsor, Rep. Tony Goolsby and House Criminal Jurisprudence Chairman Terry Keel. "They did excellent work on educating the members of the House about the need for this important sentencing option. Given the vote, they obviously were very successful, and I will continue to work with them to make sure this bill becomes law."

This proposed law not only allows for life without parole as a sentencing option in capital cases where the prosecution is seeking the death penalty, but it also offers this option in those capital cases where the death penalty is not sought.

Sen. Lucio also went on to say that "life without parole means certain punishment. With this bill, the state of Texas doesn't have to be concerned about future Supreme Court rulings abolishing the death penalty, or about parole hearings or early releases for capital murderers. It is tough on crime, final, definitive and certain!"

"The Texas Legislature has responded to the public's interest in life without parole for our state," he noted. "When you have 78 percent of respondents in a Scripps-Howard Texas Poll favoring this sentencing option, you know you are making sound public policy that also answers to the will of the people."

Note: Legislative Director Ian Randolph (512-463-0127) handles this issue for Sen. Lucio.

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