Senator Rodney Ellis on the Release of Michael Anthony Green
(Houston, TX)// Michael Anthony Green was ordered free from jail today after being cleared of a 1983 rape with the use of DNA evidence. Mr. Green was imprisoned for 27 years - the longest time of imprisonment for an innocent Texan to date. Senator Ellis issues the following statement:
"I want to wish Mr. Green the best as he walks out of the court house as a free man after 27 years of wrongful incarceration. I cannot imagine the conflict that he must be experiencing.
I commend District Attorney Pat Lykos and Mr. Green's attorney, Bob Wicoff, for working together to correct this injustice. Two exonerations in the past two weeks speaks volumes about what is wrong with our criminal justice system. Fortunately, it also demonstrates that the Post Conviction Review Section of the Harris County District Attorney's office, created by D.A. Lykos, is doing something right.
There is no silver bullet to preventing wrongful convictions. There must be a systematic reform that necessarily includes improvements to indigent defense, eyewitness identification, recording of interrogations, ensuring the integrity of forensic evidence and DNA access.
Last session I sponsored legislation creating the Tim Cole Advisory Panel. That panel was charged with studying the factors that lead to wrongful convictions and making recommendations on how to improve our criminal justice system to prevent wrongful convictions on the front end. The release of the report is expected to occur sometime late next month. However, I suspect that our state has a continuing need for an independent body to review these cases, so I want to stress the importance of creating a state Innocence Commission that ensures that the state is putting in place the reforms to prevent another innocent person from going to prison.