On Wednesday, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 166 which addresses the growing trend of wrongful convictions in Texas.
Named after Timothy Cole who served 13 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, the “Tomothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission” is a nine-member commission which investigates wrongful convictions for the purpose of singling out the core causes of exonerations.
The goal of the commission is to identify problems in the criminal justice system and patterns of prosecutorial misconduct.
Research shows that the number of wrongful convictions has increased significantly. Since 1989, Texas has well over 100 exonerations and continues to lead the nation in wrongful convictions. Dallas County alone has reported 24 exonerations over the last 12 years. Since 1992, Texas has paid more than $65 million in compensation to 89 exonerees.
A joint author of the bill, Jeff Leach stated, "I believe the most basic duty of government is to protect innocent life – from the womb to the tomb – which is why I am equally as passionate about protecting innocent defendants as I am about protecting the unborn. The disturbing, growing trend of wrongful convictions in Texas has been swept under the rug for far too long and we owe it to our citizens to make this right. I believe House Bill 166 is a substantial step in the right direction and I am proud to serve as a Joint Author."