Prevent Wrongful Convictions!
Ask the Governor to sign HB 34!
Lives are destroyed when innocent Texans are wrongfully convicted of felonies
Michael Morton, Christopher Ochoa, and other exonerees who spent decades behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit came to the capitol this spring to testify in support of HB 34. They spoke of the senseless damage that would have been prevented had measures like those outlined in Representative Smithee’s bill been in place when they were convicted of felony crimes.
They provided their heartfelt and crucial testimony in April, and since then the bill has passed the House and Senate.
HB 34 steers innocent people clear of prison
HB 34 reforms three key areas that contribute to wrongful convictions:
- witness identification policies and procedures;
- electronic recordings of interrogations involving a person accused of a felony offense; and
- prison snitches who benefit from witness testimonies.
Eyewitness identification gets an overhaul
The Innocence Bill provides that alleged perpetrators are placed in lineups or in pictures alongside filler participants that match the description of suspects. In addition, eyewitnesses are asked immediately after making their selection how confident they are in their choice. To ensure that the witness identification procedure is in accord with best practices, administrators must not know the identify of the suspect in the lineup, and must remain unbiased during photograph identification in order to keep from influencing the witness.
Coercion and intimidation during interrogations gets a hard stop
Michael Ochoa attested that had his interrogation been recorded, he would not have incriminated himself and his friend, and would never have spent 12 years of a life sentence in prison for a crime he was innocent of. Under pressure by officers to falsely confess to murder, he became one of many exonerees in the country to fall prey to brutal interrogations. Electronic recordings would prevent such abuses, get innocent men back to their lives, and compel further investigation into new suspects.
Snitches don’t get riches
Prison snitches can make careers of testifying that they witnessed confessions to high-level crimes. Their pay out are perks and privileges, and many provide their dubious services to prosecutors time and time again in exchange for excusing their bad deeds. HB 34 ensures that their criminal backgrounds are disclosed, including any history of incentivized testimony and all benefits received..
This legislation needs your support
Innocent lives are at stake in Texas when people are wrongfully convicted of felony offenses. HB 34 could be instrumental to safeguarding those who would be unceremoniously ushered into prison for years.