Thursday, January 25, 2007
"Why does Dallas County hold this dubious title," is the title of an OpEd essay in today's Dallas Morning News written by Sheron Patterson,the senior pastor of Highland Hills United Methodist Church in Dallas. It focuses on the wave of recent exonerations in the county.
I predict that more Dallas County exonerations will come. While I want to see the innocent freed, I don't want the guilty to consider the DNA exonerations as a get-out-of jail free card for everyone. DNA testing won't do you a bit of good if you are guilty. Reportedly, 32 Dallas County cases have undergone post-conviction DNA testing; nine affirmed the guilt, six are pending, five were inconclusive and 12 set men free.
Craig Watkins, the county's first African-American district attorney, is fresh on the job and has a lot of de-odorizing to do. He has made an impressive start by apologizing to two men freed this month
He can do even more impressive work if he also considers the victims of these crimes. They deserve to have the real culprit imprisoned.
In addition to the Watkins-led DA's office, I'm keeping my eye on the positive actions of two Texas legislators, Reps Senfronia Thompson and Rodney Ellis, both Democratic state lawmakers from Houston.
They co-authored a bill to establish an "innocence commission" to review cases in Texas. The legislation failed to gain momentum in 2005, but perhaps it will gain more attention this time around.