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LRL Home - Collections - Texas Penal Code Revision Research Guide - Timeline of the revision processprinter friendly versionreturn to screen view

Timeline of the Revision Process

1965 Formation of the State Bar Committee on Revision of the Penal Code.
1966 Committee meetings begin.
1966–1967 Initial reports on the various subject areas are prepared and discussions are held.
1967–1968 First preliminary drafts of penal code chapters are developed and revised.
1969–1970 Final drafts of the chapters are polished and assembled for submission to the legislature.
1971 Proposed revision of the penal code is submitted to the legislature (HB 419), but differences of opinion proved irreconcilable at this time. The legislature forms an interim committee to address the code revision and tables the subject until the next legislative session (HCR 184).
1971–1973 The interim committee and the legal community work towards a compromise on the problematic sections.
1973 The revised penal code is enacted (SB 34).

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Revision Project Overview

The Texas Penal Code Revision Project was a collaborative effort of the Texas Bar Association and the Texas Legislative Council. The project began in 1965 with the formation of the State Bar Committee on Revision of the Penal Code. The Chair of the Project was Page Keeton, Dean of the University of Texas School of Law, who was joined by prominent practitioners and scholars in the field of criminal law. The Bar Committee, working with staff of the Texas Legislative Council, was part of a wave of penal law reform that was going on in many other jurisdictions.

During the eight year revision process, the project staff, legislators and their staffs, and those interested in the Penal Code revision participated in extensive meetings in which the Texas Penal Code was drafted, redrafted and crafted into a "final" version for the 1971 Regular Session of the Legislature. (HB 419) It became clear immediately, however, that several major and minor differences of opinion as to certain parts of the code would delay its passage for at least another two years, and the legislature formed an interim committee to study the revision. (HCR 184)

Scrutiny of and changes in the proposed Texas Penal Code continued from 1971 to 1973. The voluntary contributions of time by experts in the field and those who practiced criminal law "in the trenches" allowed for further lengthy scrutiny of many sources, including the Model Penal Code, the codes of all fifty states, and suggestions from a variety of individuals. In the end, the Model Penal Code (Uniform Laws Annotated, v.10A; LAW-STATES V10A), drafted by the American Law Institute, was the foundation for much of the Texas Code; importantly, however, many unique provisions of the previous Texas Penal Code and its numerous amendments considered and/or passed from 1856 to 1973, were retained in the enacted code. (SB 34)

For a firsthand account of the revision process, please see A New Penal Code for Texas (B600.8 P371n or B600.8 P371r), written by the Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code in December of 1970 shortly before the revised draft's first submission to the state legislature in January 1971.

This document contains a list of the individuals who participated in the revision process, an overview of the finances, background on the process of revision, and highlights significant changes made to the code. Further documents on the revision process that relate to personnel, funding, project background, and the actual process of revision (e.g. reports to the legislature on how the project is progressing, readings lists for project members, guides for drafting reports, meeting notifications, and much more) can be found in chronological order in the section of Administrative Documents.