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Texas Enacts Life Without Parole Law

On June 17, 2005, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law legislation that allows Texas juries to sentence defendants to life without the possibility of parole in capital cases. Senate Bill 60 replaces the previous non-death-penalty option of 40 years without the possibility of parole with life without the possibility of parole. Thus, it represents an increase in the penalty for capital crimes.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, and had generated strong opposition from victims rights groups and district attorneys from the larger cities in Texas who believed that the life-without-parole option would make it harder to get juries to mete out the death penalty. The original version of the bill would have added life without parole as a third sentencing option, but, bowing to the political pressure of the district attorneys who claimed having three options would confuse jurors; Lucio revised the bill to make life without parole the only alternative to the death penalty in capital cases.

Texas is the 48th state to adopt a life-without-parole option, better known as death by incarceration. The law took effect September 1, 2005.

Source: Austin American Statesman.

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