HBA-EDN S.B. 85 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 85 By: Lucio Criminal Jurisprudence 5/4/2001 Engrossed BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE In Texas, a jury does not have the option of sentencing an individual convicted of a capital offense to life without parole. Under current law, a jury in a capital offense trial can either sentence a person to death or give the person a life sentence for which the person may be paroled in 40 years. However, there are growing concerns that sentencing a defendant may be problematic for juries who do not believe the defendant should be executed, but also do not believe the defendant should have the possibility of parole. Senate Bill 85 enables a jury to sentence a defendant to the death penalty, a life sentence, or a life sentence without parole. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS Senate Bill 85 amends the Penal Code to add life imprisonment without parole as a sentencing option in a capital felony case. The bill amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to set forth proceedings for sentencing and to modify the procedures for instructing the jury in a capital felony case. In a capital case in which the state does not seek the death penalty, on a finding at trial that the defendant is guilty of a capital offense, or on a plea of guilty or nolo contendere by the defendant, the bill requires the court to conduct a separate sentencing proceeding to determine whether the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or life imprisonment without parole. The bill modifies the procedures for instructing the jury in a capital felony case to include instructions regarding the sentence of life imprisonment without parole. The bill provides criteria under which a defendant is required to be sentenced to life without parole. S.B. 85 also amends the Government Code to specify that a defendant sentenced to life may be paroled, when eligible, only with a two-thirds vote of the members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. The bill specifies that an inmate under sentence of death or serving a sentence of life imprisonment without parole is not eligible for release on parole. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.