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Texas Prisoner Entitled to Separate Mandatory Supervision Calculation

By Matt Clarke

On July 2, 2008, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that a Texas prisoner who was originally had a mandatory-supervision-eligible sentence, but received two more consecutive sentences while incarcerated, had the right to have his sentences calculated as individual units which allowed him to receive mandatory supervision for the original sentence.

In 1982, Floyd Williams, a Texas state prisoner, was convicted of murder. He received a 25-year sentence. While in prison, Williams received a ten-year sentence for possession of a deadly weapon in a penal institution. This was made consecutive to his previous sentence. He later received a five-year sentence for aggravated assault of a correctional officer. This was made consecutive to the ten-year sentence. TDCJ calculated his sentence as if he were serving a single, 40-year sentence and classified him as ineligible for mandatory supervision, a form of automatic parole, because aggravated assault of a correctional officer is an offense which is ineligible for mandatory supervision. Williams filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging he was being improperly denied release on mandatory supervision.

“Before September 1, 1987, the only inmates deemed ineligible for mandatory supervision release were prisoners who were ‘a person under sentence of death-’” Later, many offenses, including murder, were made ineligible for mandatory supervision. However, a prisoner’s “eligibility for mandatory supervision is controlled by the statute in effect on the date of commission of the offense for which the inmate is incarcerated.” Thus, Williams remains eligible for release on mandatory supervision on the murder charge.

Therefore, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) “must first calculate a release date for the mandatory-supervision-eligible sentences as a unit, and then it shall add the length of the mandatory-supervision-ineligible sentences to arrive at a final mandatory supervision release date.” Relief was granted for the sentence on the murder charge and TDCJ was ordered to classify him as eligible for mandatory supervision on the murder sentence and calculate his time for that sentence and the other sentences as stated above. See: Ex parte Williams, 257 S.W.3d 711 (Tex.Crim.App. 2008). In a second case, decided the same day, the Court of Criminal Appeals came to a similar conclusion and traced in detail the workings of various changes in parole and mandatory supervision laws and savings clauses since 1986. Ex parte Forward, 258 S.W.3d 151 (Tex.Crim.App. 2008).

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Related legal cases

Ex parte Williams

Ex parte Forward