“I thank God this wasn’t a capital case,”
-Michael Morton, when freed, after spending 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
From The StandDown Texas Project we find out about The Skinner Letter. A letter written by, “More than a dozen current and former lawmakers, prosecutors, judges, police officers and even a former Texas governor..” to have a DNA test done before he is put to death.
From the letter.
We are all Texans, and we have great respect for each of you and the offices you hold. At the same time, we all also share grave and growing concerns about the State’s stubborn refusal to date to test all the evidence in the Skinner case. Executing Mr. Skinner without testing all the relevant evidence would suggest official indifference to the possibility of error in this case and needlessly undermine public confidence in Texas’s criminal justice system.
We believe that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for certain crimes, and we understand that the DNA testing might well show that Mr. Skinner is deserving of that punishment. But we are also steadfast in our belief that when it comes to the ultimate penalty, we must do everything in our power to ensure certainty before taking the irreversible step of carrying out an execution. We are not alone in this view. There is widespread public support in Texas for using DNA testing, whenever it is available, to ensure the greatest possible accuracy in our criminal justice system. As you all know, in May the Legislature enacted reforms to Texas’s post-conviction DNA testing law precisely to eliminate procedural barriers that in some cases – like Mr. Skinner’s – had gotten in the way of the search for the truth. That legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, not least because polls show that eighty-five percent of Texans agree that prisoners should have broad access to DNA testing.
Testing the DNA evidence in Mr. Skinner’s case is not only common sense, it is a public safety issue of great consequence. This month’s exoneration of Michael Morton, after 25 years of wrongful imprisonment, highlights why state officials should consent to DNA testing when untested evidence is available. In Mr. Morton’s case, the DNA testing not only proved his innocence, but identified the true perpetrator of the crime. [Emphasis added]
In Williamson County we have become intimately involved with this “public safety issue of great conesquence”. To be clear this is not about the death penalty, this is about insuring justice is done. That is after all what our criminal justice system is supposed to be about.