Texas

Santa Fe High School Families Testify Against Parole Eligibility Changes

Under a new bill, juvenile offenders would not have to wait 40 years to be considered for parole.

Deputies from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office on the scene of Santa Fe High School.

Families of the victims of the Santa Fe school shooting testified in Austin on Wednesday against a bill that could speed up juvenile inmates’ eligibility for parole.

Last May, a 17-year-old suspect was charged for killing 10 people and injuring 13 others at Santa Fe High School. If convicted, he would be eligible for parole after 40 years. But one Texas lawmaker is proposing a “Second Look” bill that would allow a panel to consider parole for juvenile inmates after 20 years.

Rosie Stone was one of the parents who testified. She lost her son Chris Stone in the Santa Fe shooting.

“I ask that mass shootings and public shootings be excluded from this,” Stone said. “Unless you lose a student, your family member, you don’t know what it’s like on this side.”

El Paso Democrat Joe Moody, the bill’s author, said it wouldn’t guarantee earlier parole for an inmate.

“I want to highlight that this bill is only about eligibility,” Moody said. “It doesn’t require anyone to be paroled. That’s critical to understand because I’m sure you’re going to hear about some heinous crimes today.”

Sonia Lopez, whose daughter Sarah Salazar was shot and survived, said mass murderers should not have the possibility of parole.

“We’ve had almost a year to get used to the idea that he would have the possibility of parole after 40 years, and this bill would make it 20 years,” Lopez said. “That is just unacceptable.”

Along with the Santa Fe families, Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady also testified against the bill.

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