Lawmakers hold hearing for bill that would speed up parole eligibility for violent offenders

Current law dictates those convicted of violent crimes must serve at least half of their sentences before ever being considered for parole.

“I get 40 years for murder under the current statute, I have to serve 20 flat day-by-day, no earned time, no good time,” said Andy Kahan with CrimeStoppers.

House Bill 1271 wants to grant good time credits to 3-G offenders.

“Those are the worst of the crimes,” said crime victim Rhonda Kuykendall. “They’re rapists, they’re murderers, they’re child sex offenders.”

If the bill becomes law, violent offenders will be given good time credit for participating in vocational training or treatment programs. That good time will drastically speed up the time it takes them to be considered for parole.

Violent offenders currently serving time will benefit if the bill passes.

“The numbers we got from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice were absolutely staggering and mind boggling,” Kahan said.

If House Bill 1271 becomes law 23, 777 violent offenders will immediately find themselves under consideration for parole.

5,327 of them are murderers.

4,668 are convicted of sexual assault of a child.

5,373 committed aggravated robbery.          

3,579 committed assault with a deadly weapon.

1,320 are convicted of indecency with a child.

1,598 committed sexual assault and 398 are convicted of kidnapping.

“I have been fighting the release of a four-time convicted sex offender every single year since the year 2006,” Kuykendall said.

Kuykendall told hearing members she’s the poster child for why this bill should never become law.

“It is very difficult for a victim to heal from trauma when you are confronted with it on an annual basis,” she said.

“Some of Houston’s most infamous cases could be eligible for parole almost immediately,” said Kahan.

They include two killers serving life sentences for the murders of Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena.