Seeking to plug a loophole in state law that leaves no punishment for 17-year-olds who commit capital murder, a Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill to close that gap — and to give Gov. Rick Perry a way to commute the sentences for about two dozen already-convicted killers.
By a 6-0 vote, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee approved Senate Bill 23 that establishes a punishment of life with parole for capital murder committed by 17-year-olds. Under Texas law, prisoners with life sentences can be paroled after they serve 40 years — meaning most of the youthful killers would not be eligible to get out until they are in their mid-50s.
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