Inmates across Texas having been asking their parole lawyers about Texas House Bill 1271. During the last legislative session a bill was introduced that would modify Texas Government Code Section 498 and greatly broaden the application of good conduct time to parole eligibility for certain inmates convicted of serious crimes.
Specifically, HB 1271 would have required TDCJ to apply good time credits to inmates convicted of 3(g) offenses –
- Capital murder;
- Aggravated Kidnapping;
- Human trafficking;
- Indecency with a child;
- Sexual assault;
- Aggravated sexual assault;
- Injury to child, elderly, or disabled person (first-degree offense);
- Aggravated robbery;
- Burglary of a habitation to commit a felony other than theft;
- Compelling prostitution of a minor by force, threat, or fraud;
- Criminal solicitation of a first-degree felony;
- Sexual performance by a child;
- Drug offenses involving the use of a child;
- Any felony in which a deadly weapon was used before, during, or after the crime; and
- Engaging in criminal activity (an offense that requires the prosecutor to prove you committed or conspired to commit a particular set of crimes as part of a criminal combination that included other people)
Spoiler alert: the bill didn’t pass – it was “adjourned sine die” which is a fancy way of saying the bill never left committee.
That’s unfortunate for convicted persons serving time for a 3g offense. Right now, these inmates must wait until they serve half their calendar time before being parole eligible. Under the proposed changes to the Government Code, all the good conduct time they accrued would count as well, thus giving these individuals the chance to parole out after serving around a fourth, rather than half, of their sentence.
Given the incarceration rate in this State, House Bill 1271 would have been a useful tool for parole boards to use to release those inmates who do not pose a continuing danger to society. Hopefully proposed bills such as this will get more traction in the 87th Legislative Session. Until then, please let your loved ones know that HB 1271 did not pass this time around.