In Austin Yesterday, Talk About Creating Texas' First "Innocence Commission"

Categories: Crime
State Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston, who called for yesterday's meeting to discuss Texas' wrongful convictions

At some point, the Texas State Senate's Web site should contain the audio from yesterday's "Roundtable on the Prevention of Wrongful Convictions," held down in Austin. Till then, here's the Houston Chronicle's account of the get-together, during which nine wrongfully convicted men freed by DNA evidence -- among them Dallas County's James Curtis Giles andBilly Smith and former prisoners from El Paso and Travis Counties -- asked law enforcement officials, attorneys and judges from across Texas to form a so-called "innocence commission," as State Sen. Rodney Ellis has called it.

Among those in Austin, of course, was Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who said, according to the Chronicle, that "efforts by his office to review innocence claims have restored confidence in the criminal justice system locally." Said Watkins, in the Associated Press' account: "It can be argued that Texas ... may have one of the worst criminal justice systems in this country. We have to start where we have the most problems." Scott Henson of Grits for Breakfast, who also attended, was encouraged by what he saw: "There is room for consensus on some of these questions, if participants coming at the topic from different angles can each set aside their parochialism and actually look for solutions instead of ways to block them." --Robert Wilonsky



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