In a column in today’s Dallas Morning News, Jacquielynn Floyd writes of the “visceral horror of undeserved punishment” suffered by Steven Phillips, who was cleared Wednesday 25 years after he was wrongfully convicted for a string of sex assaults he didn’t commit. With 19 wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing, Dallas is a hotbed of exoneration. But one of the reasons for this may surprise you…
There are a lot of questions still to be answered about how and why these errors occur. But it's sometimes dismaying to see Dallas so prominently cited for its wrongful-conviction rate, to hear cynical references to "Texas justice" in general and "Dallas justice" in particular as shorthand for unfair and abusive criminal-justice tactics.
So there was a certain comfort this week in the words of Innocence Project attorney Barry Scheck, who is probably the most visible face of the nationwide movement to clear wrongfully convicted prisoners.
He said the high incidence of local exonerations is due, at least in part, to a local willingness to identify and recognize error.
"There would be far more exonerations in cities, in other places – I assure you in New York we'd probably have 200 to 300 exonerations – if just the evidence were preserved," Mr. Scheck said during a news conference after Mr. Phillips' hearing .
Read the full story here
. (Dallas Morning News, 08/08/08)