Often times, in the criminal justice system, wrongful convictions are made; whether from lack of technology or other means. In the Texas criminal justice system, eyewitnesses misidentifying perpetrators is the leading cause of wrongful convictions. In fact, faulty eyewitness identification accounted for 86% of the Texas exoneration cases.
Just two years ago, lawmakers attempted to enact a bill to improve the reliability of eyewitness identification. Unfortunately, at the time, this bill did not pass. However, this year, it seems the bill is back and moving quickly towards passage. In this article, wrongfully convicted James Curtis Giles was quoted stating, “I didn’t know there was another James Giles…I was the only African-American sitting in the courtroom- how hard was it for [the victim] to point at me?…I thank God I got my name back through DNA that proved I was not her attacker.”
In this case, Giles had falsely served 10 years in prison and 14 years as a registered sex offender. The case is the same for many other victims of the criminal justice system such as Charles Chatman, who spent 27 unwarranted years in prison. These two men were quite fortunate to have their innocence proven. In the case of Tim Cole, he died in prison before being able to be exonerated. It is stories like this that the citizens of Austin discuss on Twitter and the Chronicle that make me question whether or not capital punishment is the right answer.