June 20, 2013
Professor Katherine Mattes, a Tulane Law School specialist in criminal law, testified before the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee June 18 on life sentences for offenders who committed capital crimes when they were younger than 18.
The Texas Legislature had to revise the state’s capital murder statute because it allowed 17 year olds to be sentenced to life without parole, in conflict with a June 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
In Miller v. Alabama, the court ruled that states can’t mandate life without parole for all minors who commit murder.
Texas lawmakers have been considering bills that would allow for life with parole, but one wouldn’t allow parole consideration until the offender had served 40 years, while another would allow parole review after 25 years.
The committee invited Mattes to testify as a legal expert on Miller v. Alabama. She said that any statute the Legislature adopted would have to allow for “a meaningful opportunity for release” after demonstration of maturity and rehabilitation.