- Austin Statesman: Compensation for unjust convictions in Texas
- Dallas News: Exonerees deserve better compensation
could actually save the state money by preventing lawsuits and avoiding large settlements and legal fees. Those who are awarded benefits would forfeit their rights to sue the state. And the legislation would not reward people who were exonerated but went on to commit other crimes. They would not qualify for benefits.
The best reason to pass the legislation is because it is the right thing to do. No one can give back the time or erase the miseries endured in prison. And Texas leads the nation in the number of people, 38, who have been exonerated by DNA testing. Perhaps attaching a cost to wrongful convictions will help improve the legal system.
The Dallas News editorial concluded:
Without this measure, the state will continue committing a double injustice to these people – once for their wrongful imprisonment and again for the failure to help them rebuild their lives once they're set free. Two wrongs make the Timothy Cole Act the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, quite a bit of other postive innocence-related legislation is still alive and moving, including the Senate version of a bill to require police departments to implement policies governing eyewitness identification procedures that will be heard tomorrow in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.
Several other Senate bills on innocence-related topics have come over to the House, including legislation related to recording police interrogations, requiring corroboration for jailhouse informants, and expanding post-conviction writ access for defendants in cases where scientific evidence has been discredited. Most of this legislation doesn't face significant opposition and, as is often the case at the end of Texas legislative sessions, time is arguably its biggest enemy.
MORE: See a press release from Rep. Rafael Anchia about the compensation bill.