Friday, October 01, 2010

Indigent defense/post-conviction DNA testing news

Several items caught my eye from the Task Force on Indigent Defense, including two related to post-conviction DNA testing:

First, Gov. Perry's Criminal Justice Division has allocated $300K for grants (pdf) to the state's four innocence "clinics" at public law schools. Welcome news.

Also, last month the task force published a survey (pdf) in conjunction with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association which reported 929 requests for counsel for post-conviction DNA testing since 2001, with 500 of them out of Dallas thanks to the District Attorney's comprehensive review of old cases there. The survey seems incomplete, though, since the prosecutors self-reported just 18 total DNA exonerations since 2001 (Question 7), and we know there have been more than that in Dallas County alone. (A 2009 report [pdf] from the Justice Project counted 39 Texas DNA exonerees at that time.)

In other news, the TFID is hosting an Indigent Defense Workshop (pdf) in Austin on October 28-29, where participants are invited to "Join and collaborate with a blend of county and state stakeholders and discover methods, processes, ideas and tools that you can use to increase the proficiencies of indigent defense systems, the quality of representation for the poor, management of jail populations and other issues related to the overall criminal justice system in Texas."

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is Grits the top promoter of graffiti? To understand how these thugs think, check out this video
"graffiti vs vandal squad New York old school". In the video it was said, "they steal their paint cans, they never buy them." Is that correct?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'm by no means the "top promoter of graffiti," merely a chronicler of the public policy foibles of those who promote the fantasy of solving the problem through arrest and incarceration alone.

In Texas, the paint cans are kept under lock and key in the stores by law. If you have any evidence their theft is a big problem here, please provide it.

Anonymous said...

I've often wondered why they have to keep paint cans locked up.

Anonymous said...

What about the shortage of sodium thiopental delaying executions throughout the US?

Anonymous said...

Just a heads up: The Indigent Defense Workshop is in Austin (rather than San Antonio) at the Texas Association of Counties.

wshackelford said...

The DNA survey does not cover all DNA exonerations but only DNA testing completed as a result of a Chapter 64 motion requesting testing. From the conclusion of the report: "It is also important to note that DNA testing may be done outside the Chapter 64 procedures. This would include testing done by the agreement of the parties or on the district attorney’s own initiative. The total number of DNA exonerations in Texas from all sources currently stands at 40."

Additionally, since the survey was voluntary we didn't get complete responses, although we did hear back from DA's with jurisdictions covering over 82% of the state's population.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks 8:42, I corrected it in the post.

Wes, I did notice the caveat about not everyone responding, etc., but that just means the data reported aren't particularly probative or useful, unfortunately.