From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
Thursday, November 2, 2006
Contact: Kenneth Besserman, 512-463-0113

Senator Ellis calls for reforms to protect the innocent

Points to recent exoneration of Larry Fuller to make the case

AUSTIN -- Senator Rodney Ellis said the recent exoneration of Larry Fuller of Dallas clearly underscores the need for Texas legislators to improve the state’s criminal justice system.

“If our state continues to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build more prisons, then I believe we should at the very least create some improved criminal justice policies that lock up the right people and not let the real bad guys run free on the street,” Ellis said.

Standing next to Senator Ellis was 57 year-old Larry Fuller. Mr. Fuller is a decorated Dallas Vietnam veteran who was convicted 25 years ago of aggravated rape and exonerated Tuesday after Dallas County prosecutors allowed for specialized DNA testing proving his innocence.

According to the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal clinic and criminal justice legal resource center in New York, over 183 people nationwide have been cleared through DNA testing after they were convicted. In Texas at least 20 men have been exonerated by DNA testing. Ten of those cases have come out of Dallas County in the past five years.

“We need a system in place that sets in motion an in-depth investigation when an innocent person is wrongfully convicted to ensure that this injustice is not repeated and the guilty are sent to jail,” Ellis said.

Senator Ellis, who serves on the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee and chairs the Innocence Project, and other criminal justice advocates outlined the need for legislative reforms related to compensation for wrongfully convicted, the formation of state innocence commission and eyewitness identification reform.