Texas H.B. No. 686

What you can do

Email the Senate.

Dear Texas Senate,

I am emailing to urge you to vote against HB 686, which would endanger Texans, traumatize victims, and deny justice. Victims should not be forced to repeatedly re-live the most horrific experiences of their lives, just so that violent criminals can have a chance to be released. Violent crime is not a youthful indiscretion. Releasing violent criminals early, just because they are juveniles, goes against the interests of Texas citizens.

bryan.hughes@senate.texas.gov,
bob.hall@senate.texas.gov,
robert.nichols@senate.texas.gov,
brandon.creighton@senate.texas.gov,
Charles.Schwertner@senate.texas.gov,
carol.alvarado@senate.texas.gov,
Paul.Bettencourt@senate.texas.gov,
angela.paxton@senate.texas.gov,
kelly.hancock@senate.texas.gov,
beverly.powell@senate.texas.gov,
jane.nelson@senate.texas.gov,
larry.taylor@senate.texas.gov,
borris.miles@senate.texas.gov,
john.whitmire@senate.texas.gov,
nathan.johnson@senate.texas.gov,
Joan.Huffman@senate.texas.gov,
Lois.Kolkhorst@senate.texas.gov,
Roland.Gutierrez@senate.texas.gov,
juan.hinojosa@senate.texas.gov,
judith.zaffirini@senate.texas.gov,
Brian.Birdwell@senate.texas.gov,
royce.west@senate.texas.gov,
dawn.buckingham@senate.texas.gov,
donna.campbell@senate.texas.gov,
jose.menendez@senate.texas.gov,
eddie.lucio@senate.texas.gov,
charles.perry@senate.texas.gov,
Cesar.Blanco@senate.texas.gov,
Drew.Springer@senate.texas.gov,
kel.seliger@senate.texas.gov

Letter

Dear Texas Senate, 

We are the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers. https://teenkillers.org/. We are urging you to vote against HB 686 for the reasons given below. https://teenkillers.org/legislation/texas-h-b-no-686/.

  1. HB 686 is dangerous 

We know that recidivism is out of control. A May 2018 U.S. Department of Justice report on state prisoner recidivism followed a sample of over 400,000 prisoners released by 30 states in 2005. Nearly 45% of the released offenders were re-arrested within one year of release.  About 68% were arrested within three years, 79% within six years, and 83% within nine years. https://www.ojp.gov/library/publications/2018-update-prisoner-recidivism-9-year-follow-period-2005-2014

On our website, we document nearly 100 examples of dangerous early releases. https://teenkillers.org/myths-about-the-juvenile-life-sentence/dangerous-early-release/

We know that many violent criminals are psychopaths–they are manipulative and have no compassion or remorse. Currently, there is no cure for psychopathy. Making psychopaths parole-eligible, even though it is a scientific fact that they will always remain dangerous, is irresponsible. https://teenkillers.org/juvenile-lifers/psychopathology-teen-killers/

  1. HB 686 would hurt victims

Many victims whose loved ones are brutally murdered or whose lives are destroyed by violent criminals oppose the criminals’ release. To prevent release, they will speak up at parole hearings. The parole process is very traumatizing for victims. Mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD flare up. They relive the horrific experiences and suffer nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks. For many victims, the release of the assailant is not only an injustice, but a potential danger. Many victims fear retaliation and justifiably so–perpetrators do sometimes hunt down victims and retaliate against them. https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/local/virginia/rape-suspect-washington-post-alexandria-crime/65-13310ff6-43bf-444d-acc3-e229d7699b6b. Victims’ understandable fear of the offenders is indescribable.

  1. HB 686 is unjust

Contrary to what juvenile offender advocates claim, some juveniles commit evil crimes with a complete understanding of the consequences. A great example is Jose Arredondo, 16, from Laredo. He kidnapped and raped a two-year-old girl and beat and strangled her to death. https://teenkillers.org/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/texas-offenders/jose-arredondo/

Another example is Kendrick Morris, who raped two women. One of the victims, 18-year-old Queena Vuong, was beaten so severely by Morris that she was left paralyzed, blind, unable to speak, and with profound intellectual disabilities. https://www.bradenton.com/news/local/crime/article137413133.html.

We are begging you to stand up for safety, victims’ rights, and justice, and vote no on HB 686.

Testimony

Re: Opposing Texas H.B. No. 686 (Moody) – Relating to the release of certain inmates convicted of an offense committed when they were younger than 18 years of age; changing parole eligibility

H.B. 686 proposes to change parole eligibility for inmates who committed an offense when they were younger than 18 years old. As the parents of a murdered son, and whose murder involved a juvenile, we strongly oppose this bill. We are worried that once juveniles are given sentences that are proportionate to the extremely violent crimes they committed, including murder, aggravated robbery/assault, and rape, this new legislation will be used to drastically shorten these sentences.

On June 24, 2020, our 26-year-old son Christopher was robbed, brutally assaulted, and murdered by five individuals in Travis County, TX. One of the five was 16 years old at the time, and was charged with aggravated robbery. The juvenile went on to commit armed robberies in Williamson County, TX after our son’s murder and was charged there as well. We believe that our son was their first victim in June 2020. The juvenile was one of the more sadistic ones, continuing to assault our son after he was beaten unconscious during the robbery, breaking his face and bones. Our son was then held for hours before he was shot to death. Since none of the five were talking, we had to search for 37 days until we found Christopher’s body in a cornfield in Manor, Texas. Our son had to have a closed casket; they even took away any opportunity for us to have a final goodbye. 
Once violent juvenile offenders are certified to stand trial as adults, are sent to prison, and are given a lengthy sentence, HB 686 could make them eligible for release on parole much earlier than under current law, which demeans the severity of their crimes, and devalues victims. 
However, our main concern is the devastating effect this legislation will have on victims and victims’ families. These juveniles caused irreversible damage, and parole hearings will trap victims in a never-ending cycle of trauma. Multiple generations of the victim’s family would need to relive their nightmare every two years. Victims need and deserve finality, not revictimization. We feel that when a 16-year old is convicted of murder in an adult court, and is sentenced to life in prison, it would be highly inappropriate for them to potentially be released at the age of 36, especially since some victims didn’t even get to live past the age of 2, as in the case listed below. There is no second chance or do-over for victims of violent crimes.

Below is an example of a Texas case listed on http://www.teenkillers.org website by NOVJM (National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers).Jose “Lalo” Eduardo Arredondo (16) Victim: Katherine Cardenas, age: Crime: Kidnapping, abduction, rape, child cruelty, & murder, Laredo, TX Sep 5, 2009Arredondo became enraged at Katherine’s mother Norma after she turned down his advances for sex. He then kidnapped two-year-old Katherine in the early morning hours of September 5, 2009. Arredondo raped the toddler and murdered her by beating and strangling her. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.(Source: National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers, Welcome to the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers NOVJM)