Texas Governor Commutes 28 Juvenile Offender Death Sentences

Texas Governor Rick Perry (pictured) has commuted the death sentences of 28 juvenile offenders to life in prison, an act that brings the state into compliance with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that deemed the practice of executing those who were under 18 at the time of their crime unconstitutional. While some of these inmates will remain in more restrictive segregation, many will have their first exposure to prison work programs, schooling, and jobs within a prison unit.

Current Texas sentencing laws give jurires in capital murder cases the choice of sentencing defendants to executon by lethal injection or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. Last week, Perry signed into law a change that will remove the possibility of parole in life sentences, but the change will not apply retroactively to crimes committed before Septemeber 1, 2005. (Associated Press, June 22, 2005) See Juveniles, Life Without Parole, and Clemency. See also DPIC's Roper v. Simmons Web page.