Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Making It Right

Sometimes, yes, I think Dallas DA Craig Watkins has a little bit of a persecution complex going on, but his work in conjunction with the Innocence Project is nothing short of amazing. And, perhaps, a little uncomfortable for some. Sixteen men have been exonerated through DNA evidence since 2001, and now that the students working with the Innocence Project of Texas are ensconced at the Dallas DA's office, they're poring over more than 400 cases Watkins promised to re-examine. While nobody's come out and said it - it's become a big elephant in the room. These exonerated ones - as you can see - have more than prison time in common. And just because they're now declared innocent does not mean their lives automatically become wonderful, either. The Texas Observer has an article on how it got so bad to begin with - and Watkins' realistic goals for his office. In a podcast with the magazine, Watkins firmly lays a lot of the blame on his predecessor, Bill Hill, but the article also shows the seeds for this were sown back in the days of Henry Wade. From the article:
Just in case there was any doubt about Watkins’s intentions, he framed copies of Article 2.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, “Duties of District Attorneys,” and put them up outside his office and in all 27 ADA workrooms. One sentence was in bold type: “It shall be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys … not to convict but to see that justice is done.”
Some are already bandying about the idea that he'd make an excellent State AG. He's already been called the best prosecutor in America by Reason magazine.