Bill would let Texas judges ‘stack’ sentences
Ted Hubert

One out of 11 American prisoners is serving a “life” term. In 1991 the average time a lifer spent in jail was 21.2 years and in 1997 the average time was 29 years.

Why would a court sentence a person to 14 life-in-prison terms? Many inmates could live to be released if these 14 sentences ran concurrently instead of consecutively.

The idea of sentencing a person to life-in-prison is to lock the perpetrators up until their death.

Who makes the decision for running prison terms either concurrently or consecutively? Is the answer the judge, the jury, the legislatures or all of the above?

Some need more protection than others, because these individuals are more vulnerable. Children, the elderly, and the handicapped are protected and crimes against them are more serious, so the punishment is harsh. State Rep. Walter Price IV (known as “Four Price”) of Amarillo has introduced HB 220, which would give judges the ability to “stack” prison terms. Stacking terms allow the sentences to be served consecutively.

HB 220 is a measure aimed at lengthening prison sentences for perpetrators convicted of repeated physical abuse or injury against a child, an elderly individual, or a disabled person.

Price issued the following statement:

“HB 220 was the first bill I introduced this session because I believe there is an urgent need to address and strengthen the state’s ability to hold accountable those who prey on the most vulnerable in our society.

“HB 220 would give judges the ability to stack the sentences of criminals convicted of repeated physical abuse or injury against a child, an elderly individual, or a disabled person.

“The need for this bill became overwhelmingly clear when I learned about a tragedy where three children, ages three to four, were severely abused, bitten, beaten, malnourished and suffering from multiple broken bones.

“Their father was convicted of 14 first degree counts of injury to a child and sentenced to 14 life sentences. Because the judge did not have the option of stacking each sentence, which therefore ran concurrently, the offender will be eligible for parole too soon. This is not right. “I want to do everything in my power to keep our families safe and protect Texas children, the elderly and the disabled from violent offenders.”

Milam County TRIAD (MCT) encourages everyone to get involved in the political process whether you are in favor of HB 220 or against it.

Contact State Rep. Dr. Marsha Farney at 512-463- 0309. When she or a staff member answers, give your name, and say that you are a const ituent living in Milam County.

Then call State Sen. Dr. Charles Schwertner at 512-463-0105 with the same information.

If you want to thank Representative Price, call 512-463-0470. Jacquelyn Greenwood is Rep. Price’s communications director, at the same number.

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2013-03-21 digital edition

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