Sunday, February 3, 2013

Innocent until proven guilty?

In Texas, and many other states, the presumption of innocence is a right that the legal system has failed many of those accused of criminal acts. The principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty has in-turn wrongfully imprisoned many people, who are either pardoned after death (including execution) or years of prison- of which they did not owe one hour. It turns out, in many cases, that DNA and other forms of evidence and procedure prove such civilians innocent. Thus, it has been suggested that The Code of Criminal Procedure be amended by adding a “Texas Innocence Commission.” This bill suggests the creation of a commission to investigate and prevent wrongful convictions.

In short, the bill calls for the creation of the committee, the details of how the nine members are to be selected, and the duties of the committee. The duties listed include: the investigation of all post-conviction exonerations, including convictions vacated based on a plea to time served, to: (1) collecting errors and defects in the prosecutor’s case, (2) identifying errors and defects in the criminal process of Texas, in general, (3) developing solutions to correct such errors or defects, and (4) identifying procedures and programs to prevent future wrongful convictions. To read the bill in its entirety, click here.  

The bill was first read on January 28, 2013 and was referred to the Criminal Justice Senate Committee that same day. The bill’s status has not changed since last week, and it is still in committee.

For information on the Innocence Project of Texas, one of the main contributors to this bill, visit and take at a look at some numbers, including Texas exoneration statistics

 Timothy Cole, the first person in Texas history to be formally cleared of a crime after his death.
"He passed away in prison while serving a 25-year sentence for rape. He maintained his innocence until the end, hoping that one day he would receive vindication and a pardon from the Texas Governor."

Images provided by

Henrietta Williams
Innocent until proven guilty?

No comments:

Post a Comment