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Relating to the release on parole of certain youthful offenders; changing parole eligibility.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 686 would require a parole panel, when making a decision on an inmate who committed the offense before they turned 17, to consider the growth of the inmate, the diminished culpability of juveniles, and the greater capacity for juveniles to change. The Board of Pardons and Paroles would have to adopt a policy requiring parole panels to consider the age of the inmate when the offense was committed as a mitigating factor, permit individuals who knew the inmate as a juvenile to testify on their personal growth, and commission an expert mental health evaluation to use in their decision.
HB 686 would lower the amount of years needed to be considered for parole for a person serving a life sentence for a capital felony committed when they were a minor from 40 years to 30 years, except for certain capital murder offenses. If enacted, a person convicted of various serious offenses committed when they were younger than 17 would only become eligible for parole after serving the lesser of 20 years in prison or one-half of their sentence, with a minimum of 4 years in prison.
Texas Action supports HB 686 which is consistent with our Individual Liberty and Personal Responsibility principles. This bill would incentivize and reward personal growth and good behavior of relevant juvenile defendants, allowing those who demonstrate sufficient growth to regain liberty and become responsible for themselves outside of the corrections system.