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Innocence Commission Back in Lege

Ellis renews quest to create independent commission to examine wrongful conviction cases

By Jordan Smith, Fri., Jan. 26, 2007

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, renewed his quest to create a Texas Innocence Commission with the Jan. 22 filing of SB 263, which would create an independent commission to examine cases of wrongful conviction, in an attempt to identify causes and recommend ways to keep the innocent out of prison. Ellis filed similar legislation before – in both 2003 and 2005 – but it ultimately languished in committee.

Ellis also filed SB 262, which would increase the amount of state-paid compensation available to the wrongly convicted. Under current statute, victims of wrongful incarceration are eligible for up to $25,000 for each year spent behind bars, up to a cap of $500,000. Under SB 262, the cap on compensation would be lifted, and victims of wrongful imprisonment would be eligible for $50,000 for each year spent in prison, or $100,000 for each year spent on death row.

"Enough is enough," Ellis said in a press release. "Day after day, week after week, we learn of more innocent Texans who have had their lives torn from them in tragic error," he continued. "We need to do more to help these Texans rebuild their shattered lives."

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