THE LITTLE DOG REPORT

Texas State Representative Senfronia Thompson Gives Her "Little Dog" Report From The State Capitol

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Innocence

One of my main concerns this session has been working towards establishing a Texas Innocence Commission. I feel this is an important issue because Texas leads the nation in persons exonerated after being wrongfully convicted. I worked very closely with Senator Ellis to develop legislation that would establish a commission that would be in charge of investigating the errors in our criminal justice system that may have resulted in wrongful convictions. I carried the companion to Senate Bill 263, House bill 3996, which never received a hearing from Criminal Jurisprudence despite being referred and requested very early on in this session.

The Senate companion was heard and voted out of committee unanimously and then passed by the Senate by a 21-10 majority vote. I requested sponsorship and a hearing for SB 263 at the end of April and did not receive a hearing until the 15th of May where it was then left pending in committee until the 18th. After speaking with my colleagues I was assured that I had 6 affirmative votes. During the Friday meeting, the number of members present to pass this legislation out of committee was present at varying times, yet the bill was never brought up. Instead it was left to the end of the meeting when some members had already left. SB 263 is an excellent piece of legislation that might not received the chance for debate that it deserves.

Somewhere along the lines I feel that some of the members of the Criminal Jurisprudence committee have lost sight of the importance of this issue. Despite its current status I have not lost faith or hope in the movement of this legislation just yet.

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