By Stephen Saloom, Innocence Project Policy Director
The Texas Forensic Science Commission is set to release
its final report on the investigation into the cases of
Cameron Todd Willingham
and Ernest Willis, including recommendations on arson investigation policies after today’s meeting.
The commission deserves the highest praise for its commitment to quality forensic practice, science, and justice as represented by their investigation and ultimate recommendations regarding the Willingham/Willis arson allegation.
The Commission insisted upon addressing the scientifically invalid and unreliable arson evidence that has tainted justice in past cases and seems to persist in some Texas arson investigations to the present day.
The Commission has reminded the nation that forensic practices must be based on the most current science and that there is an ethical duty to correct when it is clear that the state and its forensic practitioners have unjustly convicted someone based on flawed and outdated science.
The Commission has had to maintain focus despite numerous and daunting bureaucratic and political obstacles. By respecting the law, its enabling statute, and its dedication to quality forensic science, the Commission has triumphed over these challenges.
Senators John Whitmire and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Representative Stephen Frost and Senator Rodney Ellis deserve tremendous credit for their vision and the establishment of the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Without their insistence on the independence, scientific expertise and transparency of this Commission, it would not have been able to provide Texas with the incredible service that it has on the Willingham arson allegation, as well as the dozens of others that the Commission has handled with much less public focus.
Special thanks goes to the
Innocence Project of Texas
and the Commission for helping to insure that past arson convictions will be reviewed.