How Wrongful Conviction Issue Got Bush Backing


As Texas governor, George W. Bush presided over 152 executions, more than any governor in modern U.S. history. It was a surprise to some when in his State of the Union address Bush expressed concern about wrongful convictions, advocated the expanded use of DNA evidence to protect the innocent, and offered training for defense lawyers in capital cases to avert fatal mistakes, the Washington Post says.

The newspaper says the speech’s three sentences on the subject were the result of a complicated behind-the-scenes story, “a classic tale of Washington maneuvering in which different sides with different priorities found what one congressional aide called a ‘harmonic convergence’ of interests to advance new policy.” Bush started to help police and prosecutors, but the effort evolved into a broader one that put him in the counterintuitive position of providing help for death row lawyers fighting a system over which he once presided. His latest proposal would provide $236 million next year and $1 billion over five years to expand DNA testing capacity.


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