Monday, April 09, 2007

Does The System Work?

DNA evidence clears another man, James Curtis Giles, who was wrongfully convicted in Dallas County. Sez the D(a)MN:

On Monday, State District Judge Robert Francis ruled Mr. Giles should have his record cleared because DNA evidence shows his arrest was a case of mistaken identity. The recommendation will be forwarded to an appeals court for formal approval that would make Mr. Giles the 13th person in Dallas County since 2001 to be cleared with the aid of DNA testing. No other county in the nation has had more DNA-related exoneration.

Is Dallas' criminal justice system worse than any other big city in America? Probably not, but the facts aren't pointing in that direction right now. The saddest fact of all is this: if you are poor and a minority, don't get arrested in Dallas County. Even if you are innocent, don't expect the facts to shine in court.

But eere's what I really wonder: because Texas leads the nation in executions and Dallas County leads the nation in wrongfully convicted criminals, has Texas executed an innocent person? The Houston Chronicle says yes, Texas has already killed an innocent man -- Ruben Cantu. But, hey, it could be worse. At least Dallas isn't New Orleans.

Unfair Park has more on what is being done to fix the problem:
Eric Ferraro, communications director for The Innocence Project, says they will testify in support of three bills: SB 263, which would create an Innocence Commission to investigate the causes of wrongful convictions and develop remedies to prevent them; SB 162, which would increase the amount of compensation for people who have been wrongfully convicted; and SB 799, which would enhance eyewitness identification procedures.

Law students at Texas Wesleyan have signed on to investigate hundreds of other cases tried in Dallas County in which DNA testing has been requested. They will have their hands full.

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