A Harris County man was recently released from prison after spending 27 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit after DNA evidence cleared him of aggravated sexual assault. The case received quite a bit of publicity. This was due to the injustice that the man endured and the length of time he spent he prison.
However, no one in the media reported the fact that the man had spent all that time in prison without receiving parole. There is a misconception in the general public that those convicted of felonies and sent to prison, only serve a small fraction of time and are released. I believe that this leads juries to punish defendants with greater sentences because they mistakingly believe felony convicts will be released early.
Under the parole law at the time of the man's conviction he was required to do one-third of the time and not more than 20 years before he was eligible for parole. The man was sentenced to 75 years in prison. Under that law after 20 years he would have been eligible to be released under parole supervision. Obviously he was not paroled and an additional 7 years passed and still no parole. He was only released after old evidence was tested which proved his innocence.
Under the current parole law he would have to do half of his sentence but not more than 30 years before he was even eligible for parole and his case demonstrates that after 30 years he would likely not parole the first time he is eligible.
The truth is if someone is serving time for a violent or sexual offense he will end up doing the majority of his sentence.