Impact of Changing Dynamics of Inmates Serving Life Sentence in Texas

Raymond H.C. Teske, Jr., Sam Houston State University
Stephanie A. Whitus, California State University, Sacramento

ABSTRACT
Since 1977 legislative changes in the meaning of a life sentence in Texas has influenced the number and characteristics of inmates serving life sentences. Legislative mandates enacted during the past decade in the minimum number of years that must be served before an inmate can be considered for release is affecting the normal pattern of standard inflow and outflow of the percentage of inmates serving a life sentence. This paper examines the effect these changes have had on the demographic characteristics of this inmate populaltion, as well as projected changes in the demographic characteristics of this population. The paper also projects the impact these changes will have on the number and percentage of inmates serving life sentences. Included, also, are observations regarding the effect these changes will have on special services that will have to be provided for this inmate population in the future.

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Updated 05/20/2006