[DP] Fwd: [TCADP-BOARD01] Life without parole
Marie des Neiges Leonard
mariesnows99 at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 2 12:52:35 CST 2003
Rick Halperin <rhalperi at mail.smu.edu> wrote:To: TCADP-BOARD01
From: Rick Halperin
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 11:49:38 -0600 (Central Standard Time)
Subject: [TCADP-BOARD01] death penalty news---TEXAS
Death penalty alternative eyed
People convicted of capital murder could be sentenced to life in prison
without parole as an alternative to the death penalty under a bill
approved Tuesday by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
Under Senate Bill 348, life in prison without parole would join the
current sentencing options for capital murder: execution and a life
sentence with the chance of parole after 40 years.
The 5-2 committee vote allows full Senate consideration of the measure.
But the bill sponsor, Sen. Eddie Lucio, said he's unsure if he has the
necessary 2/3 support in the 31-member Senate to bring up the measure for
As a selling point, the Brownsville Democrat points to a recent poll
showing that while Texans support the death penalty in a big way, they
also support the option of life without parole.
"What this bill does is echo the sentiments of the public," Lucio said.
Describing himself as a death-penalty supporter, he said his bill "is
about giving juries the option of knowing they have locked someone up
Committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, voted for the bill but said
it's "pretty unrealistic" to think anyone sentenced to life in prison for
a capital murder would be paroled.
Different prosecutors had a variety of views on the bill.
Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney Rene Guerra said if the bill
became law, he believes the death penalty still would be imposed as
The bill would ensure that those incarcerated for life "never come out,"
Guerra also had his eye on pre-trial plea bargains, saying that in cases
that don't warrant the death penalty, the life-without-parole option would
give prosecutors greater bargaining power.
It could make defendants seriously weigh the option of life with the
chance of parole at 40 years, he said.
But Criminal District Attorney David Weeks of Walker County which
includes Huntsville, home to seven state prison units said the
life-without-parole option would mean a more difficult prison population.
Those sentenced to death have the hope of appeal right up until execution,
he said, and those sentenced to life in prison under current rules may
harbor hope of parole. The same wouldn't be true of the
life-without-parole crowd, he said.
"I feel that life without parole takes away hope. It makes somebody
basically a guided missile with no control," he said.
In the 2001 legislative session, the Senate approved a no-parole option,
but it died in the House. Changes have since occurred in both chambers,
with new lawmakers, a new GOP House majority and increasing Republican
strength in the Senate.
The committee vote on Lucio's bill, however, was not along party lines. 2
Republican senators supported his measure, and 2 opposed it.
(source: San Antonio Express-News)
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