San Antonio Express-News columnist O. Ricardo Pimentel writes, "The unfinished business: the death penalty." Here's the beginning of this must-read:
The photo of Gov. Rick Perry signing legislation that diminishes the chances of wrongful convictions in Texas is rich in irony. More important, it projects an indelible sense of job undone.
The irony is embodied in the now-deceased person of Cameron Todd Willingham, who also points to the unfinished work. Those intimately familiar with Texas' criminal justice history can tell you that Willingham, even more than Michael Morton — whose case prompted this legislation — is the state's prime example of wrongful conviction.
Morton's story is incredibly tragic. He spent nearly 25 years in prison after being convicted in the beating death of his wife. The prosecution withheld evidence that would have cleared him. Thanks to the work of the New York-based Innocence Project, Morton was exonerated by DNA evidence that pointed to another man, who has since been convicted.
But Morton is alive. Texas executed Willingham in 2004, convicted on the strength of highly flawed arson evidence for the deaths of his three daughters in Corsicana. The evidence actually points to no arson.
The photo shows Perry signing the bill at his desk, flanked by Morton and legislators. The irony: a report discrediting the evidence used to convict Willingham came across that desk or one similar in plenty of time for Perry to have spared Willingham's life.