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.