AUSTIN, Texas — Family members of victims of the Santa Fe school shooting traveled to Austin Wednesday to fight the Second Look Bill.
House Bill 256 would slash the amount of time juvenile offenders wait to be eligible for parole.
Anyone under 18 that commits a crime would be eligible for parole after 20 years, instead of 40 years as the law is currently written.
That would include the accused Santa Fe shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis, if he is convicted.
The bill would give parole boards the discretion to decide if inmates should be released early, considering their growth, maturity, and youth at the time of the crime.
It doesn’t mean all offenders will be granted parole, but knowing it’s a possibility was enough for Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady and relatives of those killed in the Santa Fe shooting to travel to Austin and fight the legislation.
The Committee for Juvenile Justice and Family Issues held a hearing for the bill Wednesday.
“I come to you today with great pain, with great concern, as a mother who lost her son to someone under 18,” said Rosie Stone, whose son Chris was killed in the Santa Fe school shooting. “I ask that mass shootings and public shootings be excluded from this. With this bill, this gives him an opportunity to only serve two years per life that he took.”
Victims' advocates argue those families would have to reopen old wounds and testify every time offenders are up for parole.
The author of the bill, Representative Joe Moody, said 4,300 people currently in prison would fall under the umbrella of the Second Look Bill.
“That shooter, and those like him, they’re not going to get paroled under this bill," Moody said. "I can’t imagine any parole board hearing the facts of a case like that and letting the killer out.”
Several families of inmates testified in favor of the bill in Austin as well. They argued their relatives could be contributing members of society, after years of serving time in prison for crimes they committed as teenagers.
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