Gov. Rick Perry has signed one of his priority bills for the Special Session, a measure which eliminates the possibility of a sentence of Life Without Parole for killers who committed their crime when they were 17, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The bill was required by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Miller v. Alabama, in which the justices determined that life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
The Texas law replaces that with a forty year sentence with the possibility of parole.
Essentially, no one who committed a crime when they were under the age of 18 can be sentenced to 'die in prison.'
State Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) said the forty year minimum is still to harsh for a young offender.
"Juvenile offenders, because of their brain development and other factors, are different from adult offenders," Rodriguez said. "There are also documented racial disparities that show that blacks and Hispanics receive harsher penalties for the same offense."
Lawyers for incarcerated juveniles in Texas say they plan to challenge the new law as not being in compliance with the 'Miller' standard.