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Jun-03-2009 07:05printcomments

Texas Enacts 'Innocence Committee' Over Excessive Wrongful Convictions

"Hang 'em high" state approves innocence commission.

Tim Cole
Tim Cole, wrongly convicted of a 1985 rape at a Texas University, died before he could have his name cleared.
Family photo, special thanks to the The Austin Chronicle.

(SAN ANTONIO) - Texas' unenviable record of convicting too many innocent people has helped the Texas House pass legislation creating an innocence commission that would investigate how innocent people ended up in prison.

Rep. Ruth McClendon,
D-San Antonio State photo

"What we're trying to do is to make sure that we never, never ever convict a person wrongly again," says. Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, author of HB 498.

The bill still needs Senate approval before he heads to Governor Rick Perry.

At least 38 Texans have been exonerated after wrongful convictions, according to The Innocence Project. Many of these inmates served decades in prison before being exonerated through DNA evidence.

An innocence commission would investigate cases to determine what went wrong resulting in convictions of innocent people to help reduce the future chances of an innocent person ending up in prison.

But even with Texas' pitiful record of convicting innocent people, passage of the bill was not a slam-dunk. The final vote: 87 for and 51 against. Only Republicans opposed the measure.

"Texas is a 'hang 'em high' state," McClendon noted, explaining opposition to her bill.

If the bill becomes law, HB 498 would formally be known as the Timothy Cole Innocence Commission.

Tim Cole was wrongly convicted of a 1985 rape at Texas Tech University. Before he could have his name cleared, the young man died in prison. Tim Cole was finally exonerated during a special proceeding that took place in the Travis County District Court, led by Judge Charlie Baird.

For more information, check out the bill analysis: =========================================================

Special thanks to Gary Scharrer who posted this article May 15th 2009 on the Texas Politics Blog, blogs.chron.com

WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE




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