The bill would increase the minimum term of imprisonment to 10 years for certain felony offenses if there was an affirmative finding regarding the use or exhibition of a firearm. The bill would prohibit a defendant from being eligible for deferred adjudication community supervision for such an offense. In placing a defendant on jury-recommended community supervision for such an offense, the bill would require the judge to place the defendant on community supervision for a period of 10 years. The bill would provide that a defendant granted jury-recommended supervision for such an offense who is convicted of another offense while on such community supervision would serve a consecutive sentence for the new offense. The bill would prohibit an individual serving a sentence for such an offense from being eligible for release on parole in less than 10 calendar years.
Changing eligibility for community supervision, increasing the penalty sentence length, and increasing the time until parole eligibility for an existing criminal offense may result in an increase in demands upon state correctional resources due to a possible increase in the number of individuals sentenced to a term of confinement as well as an increase in the average length of stay for both confined individuals and individuals placed under supervision in the community.
In fiscal year 2022, there were 13,523 individuals arrested, 1,982 individuals placed on adult community supervision, and 4,791 individuals admitted into an adult state correctional institution for a felony offense subject to the increased penalties under the bill's provisions.
Of the 4,791 individuals admitted into an adult state correctional institution, 1,708 were identified as having a court's affirmative finding of the use of a deadly weapon. Texas Penal Code, Article 1.07, defines a “deadly weapon” as a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury, or anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. Statewide data does not exist to identify cases involving the specific use of a firearm from those that involve the use of a deadly weapon. Similarly, statewide data does not exist to identify community supervision cases involving the specific use of a deadly weapon, or more specifically the use of a firearm.
The average length of stay was approximately 8.7 years for an individual released from an adult state correctional institution in fiscal year 2022 for a felony offense both subject to the increased penalty under the bill's provisions and with a court's affirmative finding of the use of a deadly weapon.
The impact on state correctional populations or on the demand for state correctional resources cannot be determined due to the lack of statewide data to identify the number of cases where there was an affirmative finding of the use or exhibition of a firearm.