Special session will decide maximum sentence for juveniles - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Special session will decide maximum sentence for juveniles

Amarillo, TX - Sentencing a juvenile to life without parole is unconstitutional, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.  And now Texas lawmakers are deciding how to change state law to abide by federal law.

Last year, SCOTUS ruled life without parole for someone under the age of 18 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and is therefore a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

So Texas, along with several other states, is tweaking its own statutes to stay within federal guidelines.  One of the items on the table in Austin in this year's special session is Senate Bill 23, which would set the maximum sentence for a juvenile offender at life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

Under current state law, minors convicted of a capital offense can be sentenced to life in prison, but must be eligible for parole.  But in Texas, 17 year-olds can be tried as adults, which creates a legal gray area for prosecutors.

"We need a punishment range, so obviously the statute is important for us to have," explains 47th District Attorney Randall Sims.  "The U.S. Supreme Court, several years ago now, also ruled that we could not execute a 17 year-old. So they've limited the punishments on 17 year-olds here twice now."

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously approved the bill, and it's scheduled to be heard by the full senate tomorrow.

If you'd like to see an analysis of the bill or see what else is on the agenda in this year's special session, you'll find that  at the links attached to this story.

  • Today's Local News HeadlinesToday's Local NewsMore>>

  • Two Moore Co. fugitives now behind bars

    Two Moore Co. fugitives now behind bars

    Friday, March 24 2017 11:19 PM EDT2017-03-25 03:19:49 GMT
    Source: Moore County Crime StoppersSource: Moore County Crime Stoppers

    Two of Moore County's 'Creep of the Week' fugitives are now behind bars after being taken into custody Friday, March 24th. 

    Two of Moore County's 'Creep of the Week' fugitives are now behind bars after being taken into custody Friday, March 24th. 

  • Canyon aquatic park to open June 1st

    Canyon aquatic park to open June 1st

    Friday, March 24 2017 8:58 PM EDT2017-03-25 00:58:06 GMT
    Canyon Family Aquatic Center / Source: City of CanyonCanyon Family Aquatic Center / Source: City of Canyon

    Construction is underway on Canyon's new aquatic park, which is still on schedule to open to the public on June 1st. The aquatic park is just a bunch of holes in the ground right now. But when the slides go up (by April 10th), people will start to see how close the project is to completion.

    Construction is underway on Canyon's new aquatic park, which is still on schedule to open to the public on June 1st. The aquatic park is just a bunch of holes in the ground right now. But when the slides go up (by April 10th), people will start to see how close the project is to completion.

  • APD warns of multiple phone scams, $180K lost

    APD warns of multiple phone scams, $180K lost

    Friday, March 24 2017 8:49 PM EDT2017-03-25 00:49:09 GMT
    Source: KFDA NewsChannel 10Source: KFDA NewsChannel 10

    The Amarillo Police Department says phone scams are more prevalent now. In just one month, the APD reports 16 victims being phone scammed out over $180,000.

    The Amarillo Police Department says phone scams are more prevalent now. In just one month, the APD reports 16 victims being phone scammed out over $180,000.

Powered by Frankly