Innocence Roundtable: Examining Wrongful Convictions

Just yesterday a Dallas man was released from prison after exoneration. That case is one of dozens like it in Texas and hundreds across the country. So people representing all levels of the justice system will gather in Austin for the first innocence roundtable. Laurie Johnson reports.
The Innocence Roundtable is the brainchild of Innocence Project Director Barry Scheck and State Senator Rodney Ellis.

Ellis is a long-time critic of the death penalty and frequently sponsors legislation for criminal justice reform.

He says the roundtable will address the problem of wrongful convictions.

"We've reached a tipping point in Texas and it's time to get people from across the spectrum who are involved in the criminal justice system -- prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, legislators, experts -- to talk about what lessons can we learn from the exonerations in Texas."

At least 31 people in Texas have been exonerated by DNA testing. Eighteen of them were in Dallas County. That's the highest rate of wrongful convictions for any county in the nation.

"There are certain common threads, trends, things that have happened on a regular basis that we clearly ought to be willing to look at. And you know it's interesting in Dallas County because of this culture of preserving evidence that's one reason why we're finding more exonerations coming out of Dallas County than other counties. And maybe we ought to look at that preservation of evidence as a good policy for Harris County."

The Innocence Roundtable is May 8th in Austin.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...