Since 1974 Texas as executed 493 prisoners on death row and this new bill would make certain there is DNA testing for all biological evidence collected by law enforcement in death cases.
“The death penalty is right for Texas. It works when it punishes murderers, but it doesn't work if it executes innocent people,” said Abbott about Senate Bill 1292. “To be certain that only guilty murderers are executed, all evidence that can be tested for DNA should be tested for DNA -- before the case goes to trial.”
“This will prevent endless appeals that game the system and delay justice for the families of victims,” Abbott stated.
“SB 1292 is a modest but vitally important reform, and is a significant step toward a more fair, reliable and just criminal justice system in Texas,” said Senator Ellis. “It will help reduce the possibility that the ultimate mistake is made with someone receiving the ultimate penalty.”
Currently under state law, DNA testing is not required prior to trial, and may only be used on just part of the biological evidence collected by authorities.
Abbott’s office explained that under current law, there are a variety of reasons why investigators may not always test all the evidence they collect.
“Cost, timing, or the fact that the full inculpatory or exculpatory potential of the evidence may not have been immediately apparent” were some reasons provided.
To avoid the imposition of an unfunded mandate on local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, SB 1292 requires that a Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab perform the mandatory DNA test at the State’s expense, and provide the results of those tests to both the defendant and state prosecutors.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, there are currently 289 people on death row.
The next scheduled execution is Kimberly McCarthy, 52, who was found guilty for murdering a 70-year-old lady in a robbery intent. After stabbing the elderly lady multiple times, McCarthy used the victim's credit cards and used the victim's vehicle for transportation.