Texas Makes Progress on Improving Criminal Justice System

Recent legislation passed in Texas indicates bipartisan support for criminal justice reform in the state. Legislators recently passed an eyewitness-identification bill intended to cut down on the number of victims and witnesses who make mistakes in in-person and photographic line-ups. This new law will require police agencies to adopt procedures and use techniques that help lessen the number of false confessions. Another bill passed recently will make it easier for convicted persons to have DNA materials tested if the testing was not done before the trial or if updated testing techniques might reveal information that is more accurate than previous results. Finally, the legislature also passed a bill that would allow compensation for the wrongfully accused even if orders of release do not specifically include the terms “actual innocence.” The bill allows affidavits by a district attorney in the crime’s jurisdiction or a special prosecutor who officially investigated the case to provide verification of innocence.

(R. Casey, “Commentary: Good deeds amid partisan squabbles,” Houston Chronicle, May 30, 2011). See Innocence and Recent Legislative Activity.