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Supreme Court of the United States

Senator Jose Rodriguez: Senate bill 2 "likely unconstitutional."

by: Nick Hudson

Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:02 AM CDT

Last week, Senator José Rodríguez cast the single vote in the Texas Senate against S.B. 2, a bill that provides for the possibility of parole after 40 years served for capital murder convictions of 17-year-olds, because he believes it is unconstitutional.

If you read my post last week, you'll remember that the June 2012 Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama held that a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for those under 18 is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court's decision had left Texas without legal penalties on the books for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder, so Governor Perry added juvenile justice sentencing reform to the special session agenda.

The Supreme Court also held that that factors such as age, family and home environment, likelihood of rehabilitation, and the circumstances of the homicide offense ought to be considered when by judges and juries during sentencing, though. For these reasons, I noted in my previous post, some thought that S.B. 2 didn't address the constitutional issues raised by the Supreme Court.

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Another Special Session Republican Bill Might Be Unconstitutional

by: Nick Hudson

Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 03:18 PM CDT

Texas may wade into a long and costly constitutional battle if it passes Senator Joan Huffman's Senate Bill 2, a bill intended to reform sentencing of 17-year-old capital murderers to comply with a Supreme Court ruling from last year.

Currently, the fate of 17-year-old killers convicted of capital murder in Texas is uncertain. Before 2005, 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder had two sentencing options available to them: death or mandatory life in prison without parole. But in two important cases, in 2005 and 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court held both of those punishments unconstitutional for people under 18 years of age.

Because of the high court rulings, Governor Perry added the goal of establishing a new sentencing scheme for 17-year old capital murderers to the agenda of the special legislative session currently under way.

The bill reported out by the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice may not actually solve the issues raised by the Supreme Court, though, and some argue that it may be best for lawmakers to do nothing at all.

Read more below the fold

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