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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bonnen Presents Bill in Support of Crime Victims and Families

Insider's Report Vol. 10 No. 16

This morning, I presented House Bill 1914 to the House Corrections Committee.  I filed this legislation to protect victims and their loved ones from having to continually appear before the parole board to ensure justice prevails for the victims of egregious crimes.

This bill would extend the period in which the Texas  Board of Pardons and Paroles must reconsider, for release on parole, an inmate who committed capital murder or aggravated sexual assault.  HB 1914 will enable the parole board to set reconsideration of an inmate’s parole eligibility as far out as the tenth anniversary of the date of the inmate’s previous denial rather than the fifth anniversary under current law.  The bill is also intended to raise awareness and demand accountability from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which inexplicably has been establishing most set-offs for egregious offenses at only three years despite its authority to set a maximum of five years between parole hearings.

My efforts were motivated by Elaine and James Dreymala's personal story.  They know the pain of reliving their son’s gruesome murder over and over again.  Stanton Dreymala, at age 13, was the last victim to die at the hands of serial killer Dean Corll and his two accomplices in Pasadena, Texas.  Because there were three men involved in their son’s murder, the Dreymala’s find themselves revisiting the horror of that day every 18 months.  Forty-one times over the past 36 years, they have pleaded with the parole board to keep these men who killed their son, and at least 28 other Houston boys, behind bars.

I personally believe that it is unacceptable and cruel to repeatedly subject victims and families to the painful process of a parole hearing that replays their personal nightmare. Every time an inmate goes before the parole board, the deep emotional wounds of the victim and victim’s loved ones are reopened. My bill aims to provide them a time of healing and what little sense of peace we can offer them


The bill was received favorably by the committee with excellent questions and a strong interest from its members.