Rep. Aaron Pena who single handedly killed the Innocence Commission bill in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee last year is being challenged by Eddie Saenz. Saenz was defeated by Pena in the 2004 Democratic Primary, with Pena winning 64% to Saenz’s 35% of the vote. However Saenz seems to be the progressive candidate this time. I sent him an email requesting for some information about his stance on the death penalty. Here is the response.
I support a two-year moratorium on all Texas executions to give law enforcement authorities enough time to determine that our current capital punishment procedures are constitutionally sound. Every prosecution of violent crime must be considered according to what is just, what is best for our community and the victim’s family, and what is best for the taxpayer. The hallmark of our criminal justice system should strive for being tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.I will not only support an innocence commission bill to overturn serious miscarriages of justice, but I will help lead the fight to make sure it isn’t sabotaged next time. As you know, last session my opponent waited a full two months to allow a similar bill to be heard in his committee, reportedly on orders from the Republican leadership he supports. On May 19, 2007, he suddenly called for a vote when few Democrats were present. It failed 4-2. The San Antonio Express-News noted: “It should not have languished as it did, and that is Pena’s responsibility.” (“Again, innocence panel, justice not state priority,” San Antonio Express-News, May 23, 2007).