Visualizing Days of Lege Debate: Criminal Justice

In the legislative session, state lawmakers passed bills to help exonerated Texans who have been convicted of crimes but later determined to be innocent. Legislators also argued about two hot topics — “sanctuary cities” and the TSA “anti-groping” bill. Use this interactive to search for the big debates on criminal justice. An overview of the "Visualizing Days of Debate" series can be found here with a brief tutorial on how to interpret the graphs.

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Highlights from the House

March 30, 2011Eyewitness ID Bill Tentatively Passes House

"Mistaken eye witness identification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in Texas. And you and I have already met several people who have been in our chamber, who have served time in the Texas prison system, who have been misidentified, who have spent time in prison for crimes they did not commit," — Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine

April 14, 2011

"They will be studying the exonerated cases based on wrongful convictions. And so the purpose of this bill is to establish a commission charged with the responsibility of studying actual innocence cases where exonerations have already been declared," — Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio

April 19, 2011

"What this bill does is simply allows an electronic processing system in a realtime tracking blocking system that can be implemented by retailers as zero cost, and provides law enforcement a more effective tool to identifying possible meth labs," — Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo

April 20, 2011Wrongful-Conviction Bill Gets Early OK in Texas House

"The commission would identify the causes of wrongful convictions and determine ways to minimize these erroneous outcomes in the future. The purpose of this bill is to reduce the number cases of exonerated persons. It is shameful to call ourselves God fearing Texans and then stand by and do nothing as persons are sent to prison for a crime they did not commit," — Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio

May 6, 2011Point of Order Derails Sanctuary Cities Bill — For Now

"The bill itself doesn't change how a police officer will do his or her job on the street. It just prohibits city or sanctuary cities, counties, sheriffs, Chief of Police, anybody from prohibiting them from having a policy that says you don't enforce the law. ," — Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton

May 21, 2011

"We can't predict how many will be convicted and how many will not be. But what this does do, sir, is it sends a message across this State to people who would, in fact, murder, intentionally murder one of our Texas children that are basically helpless between the age of 0 and 9. There's not much a child can do," — Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball

Highlights from the Senate

March 16, 2011Senate Approves Eyewitness ID Reform

"This is the eyewitness identification legislation. The bill seeks to reduce the leading cause of wrongful convictions, mistaken eyewitness identification. 86 percent of Texas is DNA exonerations involving incorrect identification," — Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston

April 6, 2011Senate Approves Easing Restrictions on DNA Testing

"This bill will revise the state's post conviction DNA testing statute to make sure that the biological evidence has not been tested to prove someone's innocence or apprehend the true perpetrator, it will be tested," — Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston

May 13, 2011Senate OKs Forensic Science Commission Bill

"The purpose of the Forensic Science Commission will be to have a group of experts who understand forensic science and are able to participate meaningfully in the process to make sure our courts are doing what they need to do and the rights of everyone is being protected; is that correct?," — Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Southside Place

May 18, 2011Senate Approves Anthony Graves Compensation Bill, Eyewitness ID Reform Headed to Perry's Desk

"As many of you know, Mr. Graves was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for 18 years, 12 of which were on death row, for multiple murders that he did not commit. His case was recently the subject on an episode of 48 Hours. Governor Perry has called Anthony Graves' case a great miscarriage of justice and said that he would support efforts to quote "get this individual the appropriate reimbursement for years that he has spent incarcerated for something that he did not do."," — Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston

May 24, 2011Fed Threat Shuts Down TSA "Groping" Bill in Texas

"There was a time in our history that we stood up to the federal government. And we did not cower to rules and policies that invaded the privacy of Texans and apparently the 30 members that were with me 20 minutes ago, people have been working against them and now they're pulling down the vote and so I will respectfully pull the bill down ," — Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston

June 14, 2011Sanctuary Cities Bill Clears Texas Senate

"In El Paso if a crime is committed against an illegal immigrant, the El Paso police department may help that victim obtain a new visa to stay in the country legally during the term of investigation and the trial. Without the ability to inquire into immigration status, the El Paso police department would not be able to assist the victim in this way," — Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands