The worst conviction possible is one that occurs wrongfully and unjustly. For a new Dallas, Texas district attorney, that kind of injustice is dealt too often to individuals of color. For this reason, the DA will propose to Texas lawmakers a criminal justice reform bill. The bill would permit individuals of certain races to raise particular defenses or bring forth special evidence because of the color of their skin.
For some criminal defense attorneys, this is a long sought after bill. For the Texas legislature, it is a long shot. The bill is at least partially inspired by the statistics in Texas, particularly in Harris County, which indicate that a black man is more likely to get the death sentence than a white man. However, it is very unclear whether the bill could make its way successfully through the Texas legislature.
One vehement advocate of criminal justice reform, Chief Counsel of the Texas Innocence Project, is extremely skeptical of the concept proposed by the Dallas DA. He speculates that this particular legislature may not welcome such a bill.
However, the Dallas DA will press on and has already found support in at least one State Senator. The Senator believes it to be a bill that should be considered and is interested in learning about all aspects of the proposal.
According to the DA, 28 of the 33 Texas death row inmates exonerated from crimes have been black. The DA further speculates that there are inmates on death row for the color of their skin.
The concept may be a long shot, but the proposal in itself is a conversation starter. It is not clear at this time which way the legislature will turn when it comes to this potential bill.
Source: WFAA, “Dallas DA: Texas Should Pass ‘Racial Justice Act,'” Nomann Mercant, Jan. 21, 2013