The following is Charles T. Terrell’s letter to the editors of the Dallas Morning News. Mr. Terrell is the former chairman of the board, for Texas Criminal Justice Department.
I join you in thanking and congratulating state Sen. Royce West and Sen. Rodney Ellis for their leadership in helping innocent people who may have spent years in prison for crimes they did not commit, and for establishing an innocence commission to lessen the chances of an innocent person being sent to prison — or worse, to death row.
If our district attorney, Craig Watkins, has already brought about the exoneration of 19 innocent men from just the Dallas area, how many more innocent are among the hundreds on death row? How do we expect previously incarcerated people to succeed without help?
We get 500 of them monthly returning to Dallas to look for jobs and housing. If we refuse to help them, crime due to recidivism puts all citizens at risk.
I reluctantly still believe we must resort to the death penalty in certain horrible criminal cases, but we must use every possible methodology to avoid putting innocent people to death.
We have killed innocent people and will do more if we don’t follow the lead of West, Ellis and Watkins. I know this because I was there. All of us want a safer Texas, but not at the expense of innocent people.