A year of being “smart on crime” in Dallas


Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins rode into office a year ago on the message that he would be “smart on crime,” and he has gained a reputation for his willingness to reexamine old convictions for the possibility of injustice. An op-ed by Watkins in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News calls his decision to review questionable convictions “a no-brainer” and goes on to review other successes of 2007 – including community service initiatives and a unit to prosecute financial abuse against the elderly.

A year ago, we partnered with the Innocence Project of Texas to review more than 400 old cases, many with requests for DNA testing that had been opposed under the prior administration. To me, this move was a no-brainer, considering Dallas County has the highest number of wrongfully convicted people in the nation – but it has been touted as bold and progressive, and it has garnered media attention internationally.

Also, to ensure that these kinds of unforgivable mistakes are never made again, at least on my watch, we established a conviction integrity unit. In its first five months, it has already identified eight more cases eligible for post-conviction DNA testing, as well as two more people wrongfully convicted of sexual assault.

Read the full op-ed article here

. (Dallas Morning News, 01/07/08)

Last week, Charles Chatman became the 15th person to be cleared by post-conviction DNA testing in Dallas County.

Read more about his case here


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