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Briefcase: Wrongful Convictions

Guest: Cassandra Jeu


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Last year, Harris County led the nation by exonerating 48 wrongfully convicted individuals. Cassandra Jeu, who directs the Texas Innocence Network, explained why there were so many wrongful convictions in Harris County.

"Faulty Houston Police Department drug tests given in the field were leading to false positive results," Jeu said. "Because many defendants couldn't afford bail or couldn't risk losing their jobs while in jail awaiting trial, they plead guilty before the crime lab could run valid tests."

Houston became the leader in exonerations because of the Institute of Forensic Science. "They did something extraordinary. They tested the evidence even after the convictions. They discovered the faulty field tests and brought the wrongful convictions to light."

Cassandra said because of this, Harris County is changing. "HPD has stopped using the faulty drug field tests. Also, our crime lab is constantly improving and setting the bar for others nationwide."