The divide over the issue of juvenile justice was a mere crack in the sidewalk compared with the bridgeless gulf separating lawmakers over abortion, but it nonetheless was wide enough to delay passage of a necessary bill closing a sentencing loophole for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder through sessions regular and special. Last week, legislators finally resolved their differences and agreed to mandate a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
A 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision forced legislators to make the change to Texas law, which had mandated 17-year-olds be sentenced to life in prison without parole. The mandatory no-parole law was out of step with the court’s declaration that life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders were unconstitutional.
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