Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Texas passes life without parole

The Texas House of Representatives moments ago passed a bill allowing for life in prison without parole. The bill passed of a 104 to 37 vote.

After the measure passes on final reading, probably tomorrow, it will go back to the Senate, which must concur on amendments passed by the House. That's pretty much a technicality. The fact is that this bill will soon be headed for the governor's desk.

Assuming that Gov. Perry signs it, we can assume that this ultimately will lower the execution rate in Texas. Texas -- along with New Mexico, which has executed all of one person in modern history -- is the only death penalty state that does not have life without parole.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know the hypothetical salutary effect of LWOP on the Texas death train has been received wisdom in the cause, and it has a certain mechanistic logic to it ... but I'm skeptical as to how much difference this will actually make (since, as you note, New Mexico is hardly a capital of executions: some other variable is at play here).

It's deeply troubling to embrace LWOP -- which will naturally affect many more people than the real/potential death row population -- for the bare hope of such incremental tactical gains. Texas has averaged about 20 executions per year over the past four years; granted that we might prefer it to be 15 or 12 or 10 instead (if zero is out of the question) ... even supposing the existence of LWOP would do that, would it be worth the cost if it meant that hundreds received these outrageous sentences? Or hundreds more were forced to plea bargain on less favorable terms to remain perniciously institutionalized deep into their dotage?