Is society prepared for them?

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Is society prepared for them?

Is society prepared for them?

Details of their crimes faded from the public’s eye long ago, the perpetrators locked away and forgotten.

They were young then — 15-, 16-, 17-years-old — but not too young to receive a lengthy sentence during the “tough on crime” era of the 1990s.

Now as these offenders approach middle age, some face the possibility of parole — raising the questions: Are they prepared to return to society or maybe more importantly, is society prepared for them?

Deanna Luprete, director of the Epicenter Initiative, said her litmus test for offenders reentering society is, “Would I want them living next to my mother and helping her take out the trash?” courtesy Forgiven Felons

Activist Deanna Luprete believes 2023 just might be the year Texas legislators realize it’s finally time to give those offenders a second chance. The momentum toward reaching that goal had been building traction since 2017, she said.

The initiative, known as the Second Look bill, proposes re-evaluating offenders who receive “harsh” or life sentences as a juvenile once they have served at least 20 years.

Despite receiving bipartisan support, Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed the bill last summer, citing potential conflict with other jury instructions. He vowed to keep working with supporters during the next legislative session in 2023.

Luprete said she is hopeful Abbott keeps his promise, although she admits she’s not confident in the process of writing a new bill.

“I have conflicting emotions because the Senate rewrote the bill the last time and it didn’t resemble anything like what we started with,” she said.

The revision, she explained, excluded offenders who were 17 when they committed their crime — an omission that removed about 893 offenders out of 1,400 “second lookers” in Texas prisons from possible consideration. 

“This year we will try to get the bill put back together the way we originally thought,” Luprete said.

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