A new bill in Texas could help reduce the number of innocent individuals placed behind bars. In the past 25 years, at least 117 convicted defendants were later exonerated of the crime. This is the highest number in the nation. For Texas criminal defense attorneys, guilty verdict applied to an innocent person is the worst result possible. Ideally, this new legislation will help reduce these numbers in the future.
The bill proposes to create a task force dedicated to determining where the Texas criminal justice system failed when convicting these innocent individuals of a crime. The justice system should have a proper system of checks and balances, permitting only for evidence to be introduced in front of a jury, enabling only proper testimony in a court room and allowing adequate time for a defendant to speak on his or her behalf.
Yet, in spite of these alleged policies, over a hundred individuals have been exonerated for crimes in the state of Texas. One of those people was an innocent man in prison for an alleged rape. He tragically died while incarcerated.
The Texas legislature championing the bill likely hopes its implantation would change hundreds of lives for the better in the next 25 years. The proposed bill would still need to pass a final vote in the House before moving forward.
Being accused of any crime should be taken extremely seriously. A criminal conviction can result in jail time, substantial fines and even long-term damage to one’s reputation. A conviction on one’s record often means it is more difficult to obtain gainful employment, rent and apartment or even obtain child custody later in life. This is why vigorous criminal defense is always necessary when facing a serious criminal charge.
Source: Texas Chronicle, “Exoneration panel bill clears initial house hurdle,” April 23, 2013