(Austin, Texas) July 15, 2022– The harshest parole eligibility for juvenile offenders in any state is Texas’ mandatory sentence of a minimum of 40 years. In the newest study from Right On Crime, a national conservative criminal justice campaign, we examine successes in other states requiring shorter mandatory sentences on a case-by-case basis and how meaningful rehabilitation programming impacts public safety: Taking a Second Look at Juvenile Sentencing.
Texas’ laws governing juvenile parole eligibility require an update to reflect the advancement of credible research around adolescent development. Given most incarcerated individuals will eventually be released, in order to ensure public safety, Texas must implement meaningful rehabilitation programs to prepare juvenile offenders to successfully reenter society.
“The goal is not to provide an escape from punishment for crimes committed by juveniles, but rather to ensure the punishment is appropriate for both the crime and the offender. Adjusting juvenile sentencing in Texas would acknowledge that adolescents’ decision-making abilities, as compared to adults, are underdeveloped, and, on a case-by-case basis, with earlier parole eligibility than 40 years, Texas can give adult juvenile offenders who have been rehabilitated a second chance to rebuild their lives and become meaningful contributors to society.”
Nikki Pressley, Texas Director of Right On Crime.
Study Key Points
- Data show that juvenile offenders have a greater capacity for rehabilitation as they continue to reach developmental maturity and develop skills to rebuild their lives and become contributing members to society.
- Research concerning recidivism and adolescent development supports that juvenile offenders are often rehabilitated well before their parole eligibility, which in Texas is 40 years, the longest of any state.
- Most states have adjusted parole eligibility for juvenile offenders by considering research on adolescents’ ability to mature and successfully integrate into parole proceedings and society.
- Research shows significantly lower rearrest rates among adult juvenile offenders in comparison to adult offenders released into communities.