FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2005
AUSTIN, TX--Today Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. announced that his bill that will offer Texas juries life without parole in addition to the death penalty was approved by the full Legislature and is now headed to the Governor for his signature that will make this legislation state law.
"I commend Senators Rodney Ellis, Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and Leticia Van de Putte, co-authors of Senate Bill 60, who offered their full support and leadership to see this long-awaited bill finally become law," said Sen. Lucio.
"I also applaud the work of Rep. Tony Goolsby, the House sponsor of the bill, for his ability to usher the bill through the House with minor changes," said Sen. Lucio. "Recognition for hard work and leadership that helped ensure that this bill successfully made it through the process in the House also goes to the other House sponsors, Representatives Ruth Jones McClendon, Harold Dutton, Jr. and Terry Keel."
While most of the changes were of a technical nature, the provision that now codifies the federal ban of sentencing to death a person who commits a capital crime when younger than 18 is the most noteworthy.
"With the federal prohibition on the death sentence for juveniles in capital cases, SB 60 has become a critical piece of legislation. The safety of the citizens of this state demands this," said Sen. Lucio. "Now we can prevent persons who Texas juries would previously sentence to death from re-entering our communities.
"Texas families of capital crime victims will now have certainty that those persons who committed such heinous crimes--but because of mitigating circumstances cannot be sentenced to death--will never be eligible for parole," he added. "I've worked to bring life without parole to Texas since 1999, and I'm elated for the support shown by the Legislature and the public to make this effort a reality."
Sen. Lucio said that although he would have preferred to give Texas juries three options (the sentence of life with the eligibility for parole after 40 years was removed) he is grateful that families of murder victims can feel a sense of justice. Additionally, 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.
As he's stated before, "It is final, definitive and certain!"
Note: Legislative Director Ian Randolph handles this issue for Sen. Lucio and can be reached at 512-463-0127.