What Is the Texas “Second Look” Bill?

What Is the Texas “Second Look” Bill?Texas State Representative Brad Buckley, R-Killeen, has co-authored the “Second Look” Bill, legislation that would require the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to give certain youth offenders a second look at parole at 20 years, instead of 30 or 40 years. It also requires the Board to look at the personal growth and maturity of youth offenders when making these decisions.

Texas HB 686, also called the Second Look Bill, would give a chance for some individuals who committed felony crimes as teenagers, but were tried as adults, to be eligible for parole earlier. Representative Buckley told KWTX News, “A youngster could go in, and it would be 40 years before they’re eligible for parole, but had that crime been committed by an adult at that time, their parole opportunities would come up much sooner.”

This legislation would also enhance the parole review process for these youth offenders by taking into account their age at the time they committed the crime, and the hallmark features of that chronological age. Second Look Texas describes these hallmarks as “immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences, family and home environment, peer and familial pressure, the degree to which youths’ developmental shortcomings may have prejudiced them in their criminal defense and their capacity for reform.”

Second Look Texas also offers some sobering statistics about juvenile offenders in prison for felony crimes:

  • The average age of incarceration is 16 years old;
  • In Texas, it costs $2.5 million to incarcerate a youthful offender for life;
  • It costs less than $625,720 to incarcerate a youthful offender for 20 years;
  • 65% of youthful offenders are currently not eligible for parole;
  • The average age of a “second looker” is 43 years old;
  • The average “second looker” has served 26 years in prison; and
  • Texas currently has 1,388 youth offenders serving de facto life sentences.

The advocacy group also points out that the longer a person is in prison, the less chance they have to successfully integrate back into society – “Extreme sentences are also counterproductive to youthful offender rehabilitation and their chances of post-release success. Long-term incarceration heightens the risk of detrimental institutionalized effects and often results in accelerated-aging, including early development of chronic illness and disabilities.”

If you are facing felony charges in Texas

Felony crimes are much more serious than misdemeanors, and are typically reserved for violent or extreme crimes, like murder, robbery, arson, or use of a deadly weapon. Even marijuana possession can land a person in prison for a year or more. And, if your child is tried as an adult, it means they will face the same punishments and consequences as anyone else.

You will need strong and experienced criminal defense to avoid a criminal record and penalties. A capital felony conviction can result in life in prison, or even the death penalty. A first-degree felony can result in five to 99 years in prison. Additionally, you will be required to pay thousands of dollars in fines.

The Second Look Bill can give the youth offenders of Texas a second chance. If you have questions about parole or probation regarding your or your loved one’s case, talk to the criminal defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm today. To set up a consultation, call us today at 254-680-4655 or visit our contact page. We proudly serve clients from our offices in Killeen and Copperas Cove.