A group of exonerees will come together in the Texas State Capitol building this afternoon to call for a statewide moratorium on executions. More than 20 people – who served time on death row before evidence of their innocence led to their release – are expected to attend the event, which is being organized by Witness to Innocence, an advocacy organization spearheaded by exonerees. The group argues that exonerations should be halted so state officials can study the “broken death penalty system, which has exonerated nine people from death row since 1987, third only to Florida and Illinois in death-row exonerations.." (Witness to Innocence includes people who were exonerated through DNA testing, as well as many others whose convictions were overturned based on other evidence.)
A column by Bob Ray Sanders in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram considers the prospect of innocent people on death row, and agrees with Witness to Innocence.
More and more leaders are recognizing that we do have a broken system in the Lone Star State.
Last summer the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals announced the creation of a Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit to examine weaknesses in the criminal justice system. And, Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court is among those calling for a statewide innocence commission.
It makes sense that while we recognize an imperfect system with weaknesses that must be examined and corrected, there ought not to be any more executions in Texas until those issues have been fully addressed.
The Star-Telegram is on record supporting a moratorium on executions.
Read Sanders’ column here
. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10/29/08)
Watch the press conference live here
(on LiveStream 8) at 2 p.m. Central Time.
Meanwhile, the Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit held hearings yesterday on problems with eyewitness identification procedures in the state. Richardson Police Chief
and Iowa State Psychology Professor
were among the speakers.