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State Lawmakers Address Wrongfully Convicted

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – State lawmakers are hearing a number of bills that address the "wrongfully convicted." KERA's BJ Austin says a dozen men who spent YEARS behind bars for crimes they did not commit appeared before a Senate committee yesterday.

The Criminal Justice Committee passed a bill by Senator Rodney Ellis to provide stricter and "written" guidelines for police photo lineups. Johnny Lindsey, of Dallas, spent 25 years, 11 months in prison for a crime he did not commit. He says the photo lineup from which he was identified featured four men without shirts, and two wore shirts - an item of clothing worn by the suspect.

Lindsey: And on the back of my picture they had my birthdate, and on the other picture they had nothing. So, that narrowed it down to one person, who the victim was supposed to pick as the perpetrator.

Lindsey went to prison on the basis of that faulty identification. The Texas Police Chiefs Association worries the new policies and procedures may not work. But Senator Ellis says it's time to act.

Ellis: But look, all these exonerations in Texas all of us ought to be embarrassed.

Dallas County has the most exonerations of anywhere in the U.S, with 19. 18 of the men went to prison on a faulty eyewitness I-D.

Send E-mail to BJ Austin