May 25, 2005 – Texas, the state that executes the most prisoners, is one step closer to passing a law that would allow juries to impose a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for those convicted of murder.
The measure, which passed the House by a 104-37 vote Tuesday, would retain the juriesâ€™ option of imposing the death penalty, but would eliminate their alternative opportunity to sentence a convict to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
Death penalty opponents support the measure, claiming that it would reduce the number of people condemned to die by execution, since juries can be assured a convict will never be released.
Some civil liberties groups, however, criticize removing the parole option, the Associated Press reports. They claim that it currently allows juries more flexibility and provides convicts with an incentive to work toward release.
Some prosecutors opposed the measure, also, arguing that it would result in fewer guilty pleas from murder defendants facing the death penalty, since they might consider a jury trial worth the risk.
The bill now goes back to the Texas Senate, which had already approved it, for final revisions. Governor Rick Perry has not indicated whether he would sign the bill into law.