Saturday, May 02, 2009

State Innocence Commissions

In the wake of last week's announcement of the formation of the New York Task Force on Wrongful Convictions, comes word that the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has approved 8-3 Texas State Representative Ruth Jones McClendon's proposal for a commission to investigate and prevent wrongful convictions in Texas.

The commission would be named the Timothy Cole Innocence Commission in honor of the Army veteran who served 10 years of a 25-year sentence after being wrongfully convicted of a sexual assault he did not commit. Cole died in prison in 1999, before he was cleared.

Colorado, as well as other states, needs to look closely at its use of practices that we now know convict the innocent and let the guilty go free. The exoneration of Tim Masters last year provides a peak into a justice system that rushes to judgment and seldom looks back on mistakes. It's time for us learn from past mistakes rather than simply repeating them at great cost to justice.

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