A new state commission to investigate wrongful convictions in Texas now has preliminary approval under a bill passed by the House.
State Representative Ruth McClendon of San Antonio authored H.B. 166, creating the "Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission", named after the first person in Texas to be posthumously pardoned. Cole was an Army veteran who died in prison in 1999, 13 years after he was convicted of a rape in Lubbock that he did not commit.
The panel, consisting of members appointed by the governor, would study the cases of those proven to be innocent of crimes they were convicted of committing, with the goal is to determine the causes of wrongful convictions, and ways to prevent them.
"What the commission would not do is look at post-conviction practices, or citizen issues such as the death penalty," McClendon said. "It would not reopen cases where no exoneration has been declared. It would not undertake actions that interfere with the jurisdiction of the courts, nor interfere in pending cases."
Texas ranks third in the nation for the number of proven wrongful convictions.