From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
Thursday, August, 26, 2004
Contact: Brandon Dudley/Kenneth Besserman,
(713) 236-0306/(512) 463-0113 917-7614

Statement of Senator Rodney Ellis concerning Houston DNA Lab

We are all aware that the Houston Police Department's DNA Lab has been under scrutiny for some time. We have seen and read the stories of improperly tested evidence, mistakenly stored evidence, and lack of oversight. We have seen the tragedy that can result.

DNA evidence and the technology associated with DNA evidence are important tools for the police, prosecution and defense to use to make sure that the correct person is convicted of a crime. When the proper measures are not taken in the maintenance and handling of DNA evidence, innocent lives may be forced to pay the price. This is why it is extremely important that we all understand that DNA evidence must be properly maintained and stored for future use.

I want to commend Chief Hurtt and Mayor White for being forthright and honest in their efforts to see that justice is done. I understand that Chief Hurtt and the Department will be reviewing a number of cases in which DNA evidence may have played a significant role. I am confident that the Chief and the Police Department will use all diligence and good faith in their efforts to uncover and remedy any problems at the lab and to ensure that justice is served.

As the City of Houston and the Houston Police Department begin their review of many cases in which DNA evidence may have been a significant part, it is important that we not lose sight of the fact that all we are seeking is a criminal justice system that is fair, that justice is served, and that innocent people are not forced to suffer for crimes they did not commit. It is important for the criminal justice system, the people of Houston and the individuals involved in these cases to know that our leaders understand the seriousness of the problems that have been uncovered at the DNA Lab and that steps are being taken to correct them.