Greg Abbott Backs DNA-Testing Bill, Continues Unprecedented Streak of Reasonableness

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Greg Abbott's acting strangely. It wasn't even two weeks ago that the Attorney General seemed to have given up his day job suing the Obama administration and just started trolling liberals full-time. But then, in a turn that was completely unexpected, Abbott was seized by an bout of reasonableness

The day after his liberal-trolling Facebook post implying that public school students should receive instruction in firearms and the Bible, he announced his support for a smart, we daresay progressive, update of the Open Meetings Act. Today, he threw his support behind SB 1292, an uncharacteristically reasonable proposal that would require pretrial DNA testing of all biological evidence in death-penalty cases.

"There's no reason to test these items more than a decade after the crime was committed," Abbott said Tuesday at a news conference alongside the bill's author, Rodney Ellis, a Houston Democrat. "We shouldn't live with suspense. The family of the victim shouldn't have to through this time after time after time in order to get certainty."

Abbott is careful to frame his support for Ellis' bill mainly as an effort to help victims' families, but it comes, of course, in the wake of an embarrassingly high number of overturned convictions. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 53 prisoners have been freed by DNA evidence, two of whom were serving on death row.

And that's the other reason Abbott says he's lending his support: to strengthen the death penalty. "The death penalty is right for Texas," he said in the press release. "It works when it punishes murderers, but it doesn't work if it executes innocent people. To be certain that only guilty murderers are executed, all evidence that can be tested for DNA should be tested for DNA -- before the case goes to trial."

Abbott's newfound passion for bipartisanship and rationality can probably be explained as an attempt to position himself as someone who can reach across the aisle to get things done in advance of his all-but-inevitable 2014 gubernatorial run. Whatever his motives, Abbott's on the right side of this particular argument, which has us wondering. Is he sure he's feeling well? Maybe he's feverish? He's been looking a little flushed lately. He should probably rest.


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10 comments
MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

As with any other manufacturing process, it is cheaper to do it at the front end. Then we do not waste the hours arguing about it later. They should also do the test for mental deficiency at the beginning, probably before being charged. He passes it and the test remains forever. All the stunts these low lifes dream up later sitting on Death Row would count for nothing. It would likely speed their date with the needle, a good result.

Peterson
Peterson

If we are even admitting that there is a flaw in the system that could result in the execution of innocent people, why not just stop executing people? You can unlock a prison door, you can't un-poison a dead man. Captain Obvious, I know, but c'mon.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

this will make it 7-8 times more expensive to put a man to death than it does to lock him up for life. 

anon
anon

@Peterson we made mistakes in the past, but we'd never do it again.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@scottindallasSome DNA tests cost more than others.  I would reckon that the less costly, but also less enlightening, tests could be used to rule out suspects and/or evidence before the trial.  

The conditions under which this "works" or if it is a "win" is if it bars evidence or rules out a suspect.  That doesn't require genetic profiling to the nth degree of every biological sample.


Here's a pointer (http://www.dnatestinginformation.com/?i=CostsOfDNATesting):

"DNA testing costs can range from reasonable to exorbitant, with easy-to-detect genetic linkage tests costing a few hundred dollars, while difficult tests like analysis certain types of mutations can cost thousands of dollars. Most of the time prices given for DNA testing are for the entire process, from sample collection to analysis, written reports and even courier costs. However, as with anything else, when opting for a genetic test, it is advisable to find out any hidden cost attached to an test"

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@roo_ster @scottindallas but, it's not even the cost of the test, it's the cost of the pre trial hearing, getting the legal team, the staff, and the judge together. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@mcdallas @scottindallas yes, it's already 5-7 times more expensive, so this will add to that.  I'm not saying this will cost that much more, but add to.  This entails another trial before the trial.  It's a good idea if you're so flush with funds you want to have these costly demonstrations of the ultimate justice, it's just fiscally stupid. 

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