Nine months after he was exonerated in Houston, Ronnie Taylor is building a new life. He lives in Atlanta and is married to his longtime girlfriend, Jeanette Brown, who waited for him while he served 14 years behind bars. He owns his own lawn care business.
(He) says that “everything’s going lovely, man,” and only when you press him will he tell you about his medical problems, his lack of health insurance, his debt and the trouble he has on job and credit and rental applications explaining 14 missing years of his life.
An article in the Houston Press this week catches up with Taylor and looks back at the long, hard years he spent in prison, waiting for a chance to prove his innocence. The article also examines the state of criminal justice in Houston and statewide in Texas, and finds that reforms haven’t moved fast enough to prevent future injustice like Taylor’s.
Texas has experienced 34 DNA exonerations — more than any other state — and “these compounding exonerations,” as State Senator Rodney Ellis says, “are clear and convincing evidence that our criminal justice system is broken.” Time after time, Ellis has pushed reforms to prevent the conviction of innocent people, but most of these proposals have been defeated, mostly on the grounds that they’re unnecessary. Ellis is baffled. Only in criminal justice, he says, do “you get a knee-jerk reaction that the system is just fine and improvements aren’t needed. At times, it seems there’s more of an effort in trying to ignore mistakes than any real effort to address them.”
Read the full story here
. (Houston Press, 10/09/08)