WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Criminal justice reform is on the minds of legislators in Austin as two bills altering how bail is set and who can be sentenced to death pass through the House.
District 69 Representative James Frank said that the current bail system unfairly favors those with money and that changes would create a fairer process while ensuring dangerous criminals remain in jail.
Reasons why he said he is in favor of House Bill 20.
“It places better parameters on bail, giving more information to people actually making the bail decisions so we can focus on safety and appearance in court, not just wealth,” Rep. Frank said.
Another criminal justice reform measure, House Bill 1340, overwhelmingly passed 139-4 on Tuesday.
Frank said that the bill would abolish the so-called “law of parties” rule in the death penalty which would make a criminal defendant who was present when a capital murder took place ineligible for the death penalty.
“You could be in a car, not knowing someone is going to commit murder, not having any plans on that, but since you were there, you get it. And while that may be guilty of something and certainly guilty by association and you may have some role in it, it is certainly not what most people think about, as being worthy of the death penalty,” Rep. Frank said.
Both bills are headed to the Senate where they are expected to pass and head to Governor Abbott’s office for signatures.