Parole Reform & Statistics
Youthful Offender with Extreme Sentences
IS THE AVERAGE AGE OF INCARCERATION
TOTAL YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS SERVING DE FACTO LIFE SENTENCES FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AS MINORS
YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS HAVE ALREADY SERVED MORE THAN 20 YEARS, BUT NEARLY TWO-THIRDS ARE NOT YET PAROLE ELIGIBLE.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission constitutes an approximate sentence of 39 years is a de facto life sentence. In Texas, roughly 1,400 justice involved youth currently have a life or de factor life sentence, the majority of whom must serve a minimum of 30 years before becoming eligible for parole. Currently, there are 308 Second Lookers serving capital life sentences who must serve a minimum of 40 years before becoming eligible for parole; and 10 justice involved youth are serving unconstitutional life without parole (LWOP) sentences.
The Texas Second Look Bill, aligned with scientific evidence and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the necessity of Youth Justice Parole Reform, proposes to grant juvenile offenders with extreme sentences at least 40 years parole eligibility after serving 20 years. Additionally, Second Look legislation would enhance the parole review for such youthful offenders by including consideration of chronological age and it’s hallmark features, such as immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences, family and home environment, peer and familial pressure, the degree to which youths’ developmental shortcomings may have prejudiced them in their criminal defense and their capacity for reform.
Youthful Offenders Currently Incarcerated By Decade
“To detach myself from the infectious negativity of prison culture, I pursued an education and participated in available rehabilitative programs. To date, I have earned four college degrees (an AA in Liberal Arts, a BS in Behavioral Science, a MA in Literature, and a MA in Christian Education), a college trade (in Computer Repair), five On-The-Job Vocational Trainings, and nine TDCJ rehabilitative programs (two more of which I am currently enrolled). My prison record testifies of my transformative maturation and self-betterment, exudes my longing desire to rejoin society, and reflects my propensity for success. My survival has largely been fueled by hope of a second chance at life, and I am living proof that youthful offenders are not beyond hope or rehabilitation.”
- Chon Dimas, 75-Year Sentence at 17 years old
YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS NOT CURRENTLY ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE
YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS CURRENTLY INCARCERATED HAVING RECEIVED AT LEAST ONE SET OFF
YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS ARE SERVING UNCONSTITUTIONAL LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS CURRENTLY APPROVED FOR PAROLE PENDING THE COMPLETION OF A RE-ENTRY PROGRAM
IN TEXAS, IT COSTS ABOUT $2.5 MILLION TO INCARCERATE A YOUTHFUL OFFENDER FOR LIFE. BY CONTRAST, IT COSTS LESS THAN $625,720 TO INCARCERATE A YOUTHFUL OFFENDER FOR 20 YEARS.
“If anything, a more meaningful parole review makes society safer without erring on the side of condemning children to die in prison in the name of public safety. Especially people who are—as I write and as you read—toiling to overcome obstacles that many never survive. There are examples of strength and courage within those walls from which we all can learn.”
Chris Self, Chief Counsel - “An Introduction to Texas Parole”
Although neuroscience shows that juveniles are less culpable than adults, there’s little excuse for violent youth crime. But keeping youthful offenders incarcerated beyond 20 years does little in terms of public safety and it’s a counterproductive and fiscally irresponsible expenditure of taxpayer dollars. In Texas, it costs about $2.5 million to incarcerate a youthful offender for Life. Comparatively, it costs approximately $625,720 to incarcerate a youthful offender for 20 years. Earlier parole release through the Second Look legislation for those who demonstrate sufficient rehabilitation could save the sate about $1,874,280 per youthful offender. The cost estimate however, only accounts for prisoner housing and does not include additional rising costs for treatment of medical and mental health issues prevalent in institutional settings.
Extreme sentences are also counterproductive to youthful offender rehabilitation and their chances of post-release success. Long-term incarceration heightens the risk of detrimental institutionalized effects and often results in accelerated-aging, including early development of chronic illness and disabilities. Additionally, after youthful offenders with extreme sentences survive multiple decades in prison, they are releases at an advanced age, usually with no real job skills and a weakened non-existent support system. As a result, the longer they are incarcerated the more likely they will be dependent on government welfare and transitional housing programs with finally released.