Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
August 7, 2009
Contact: Tina Tran, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis Responds to Sonnier Exoneration

23 years ago, Ernest Sonnier was sentenced to life in prison for a rape he did not commit. After 23 years of imprisonment and 18 months of combing through evidence and multiple DNA tests by the Innocence Project, Mr. Sonnier is set to be released from prison today.

"Mr. Sonnier and his family have my sincere condolences and apology, but I am happy that today he is a free man. To be innocent and imprisoned for 23 years is a severe miscarriage of justice and it must not be ignored. How many more exonerations must come to light before Texas makes a commitment to smart criminal justice reforms? Texas has had more wrongful convictions exposed than any other state in this country, yet we refuse to implement policies and procedures that are proven to reduce errors in criminal cases. Although there is nothing we can do to give Mr. Sonnier back 23 years of his life, I hope his exoneration brings our state closer to the reforms we need."