Lost in the debate over abortion in Austin is the discussion about new sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder in Texas.

Lawmakers were forced into the discussion after the Supreme Court ruled a mandatory life sentence for someone so young amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. 

Marc Levin at the Texas Public Policy Foundation says the high court decided judges and juries should use additional discretion in each case.

“Whether they had a prior record, whether that 17-year-old was just in the car during a felony murder and didn't actually pull the trigger,” Levin tells KTRH News.

“So there are all these different factors, and a lot of them deal with how developed mentally that 17-year-old was at the time,” he says.

Levin insists murder is still a horrible crime no matter what age the killer is.  However, he suggests possible parole at age 58 or 59, pointing out the average life expectancy in prison is 62.

“I would give a range to the judge or jury which allows them to select in appropriate cases, where after 20 or 30 years, that 17-year-old would be reviewed for discretionary parole,” he says.