Texan of the Year
The Dallas Morning News recently named Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins its 2008 "Texan of the Year" lauding his work on preventing wrongful criminal convictions and exonerating innocent prisoners.
DMI highlighted the significance of Watkins' work at our October 2007 Marketplace of Ideas event where Watkins shared his experience with criminal justice reform. Panelists included Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, Barry Scheck of The Innocence Project, and NY State Senator Eric Schneiderman. The conclusion? New York, and the nation, have a lot to learn from Dallas.
From the Dallas Morning News:
"Here in the state that sanctions killing more often than any other, Craig Watkins is not just another cog in the machinery of death. The first-term Dallas County district attorney has quickly emerged as a transformational figure who has made a name not by securing convictions, but by clearing the way for them to be overturned...
He has reinvented his office by creating a conviction integrity unit, an operation that has freed prisoners who were wrongly locked up for murder, robbery and rape. Not content to just notch wins in the courtroom, Mr. Watkins deserves credit for vigilantly pursuing justice – a distinction with an important difference.
Dallas County leads the country in DNA exonerations (19 and counting), and Mr. Watkins has seized upon the attendant acclaim, taking his fight for social justice to statewide and national stages. In his sudden fame, he sees an opportunity to change the way district attorneys do business."
Congratulations, D.A. Watkins! May your policy innovations spread far and wide.