Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 20, 2003
Contact: Mike Lavigne, (512) 463-0113

Innocence Commission Bill Passes out of Texas Senate

Austin, TX- Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) passed Senate Bill 1045 out of the Texas Senate today. SB 1045 creates an interim Innocence Commission to investigate the causes of wrongful criminal convictions in Texas.

"When an airplane crashes we demand an investigation to find out why, in hopes to avoid another," said Senator Ellis. "When we lock up innocent people we should also demand to know why in hopes to avoid other mistakes."

The interim committee would be composed of nine members, including legislators, members of the judiciary, and law professors.

The duties of the committee are fourfold:

  1. To study the cause of and investigate wrongful convictions
  2. To identify appropriate improvements in the criminal justice system to prevent future wrongful convictions
  3. To recommend policies, procedures, practices and legislation needed to prevent future wrongful convictions
  4. To assess the procedures used by counties to ensure due process and suggest a statewide model for procedures ensuring due process

The committee would issue its report by October 1, 2004

"This legislation has one simple goal, to restore confidence in the Texas criminal justice system," said Senator Ellis.

North Carolina and Arizona have similar laws on the books. Connecticut, New York, and California all have similar legislation awaiting introduction or pending.

SB 1045 will now be sent to the House of Representatives for approval.