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Dallas DA Introduces 'Racial Justice Act'

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Posted: January 22, 2013   5:30 PM

Photo: Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins (back row, third from right) with Texas exonerees.
In an effort to continue the fight against wrongful convictions and to free the innocent in Texas, Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins urges state legislators to consider the Racial Justice Act so defendants can appeal their convictions and sentences on the basis of race, reported the Associated Press.

"The issue that we're bringing to light is to make sure that everything is fair, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, and you're treated just like anyone else," Watkins said. "And if you deserve a death sentence, then you will get it. If you didn't, then you shouldn't be on death row."

Watkins plans to file a bill in the next few months that would allow defendants to introduce evidence, either in their specific case or through general statistics, to argue that their prosecutions or sentences were influenced by race.

Despite several reforms passed in recent years that have expanded DNA testing and compensated the wrongfully convicted, Watkins said Texas still comes up short. In Dallas County, 28 of the 33 people who have been exonerated of crimes since 2001 are black, according to Debbie Denmon, spokeswoman for the DA's office.

According to a 2008 study of racial disparity in sentencing, black defendants in Harris County, which includes Houston, were more likely to get a death sentence than white defendants. That study revealed that blacks comprise 40% of Texas' nearly 300 death row inmates while just 11% of the state's population is black.

"I would imagine that there are individuals, not just in prison, but particularly on death row, that were convicted because of the color of their skin," Watkins said.

"We're just going to keep pushing the envelope forward to make justice work for the state of Texas, and Texas has an opportunity to lead the country when it comes to what it means to be a prosecutor and what justice is," Watkins said.

According to the Associated Press, Kentucky and North Carolina have passed similar legislation in 1998 and 2009, respectively. Kentucky's law allows a defendant facing the death penalty to seek a hearing under the act before trial, and North Carolina’s law allows defendants to use some statistics and direct evidence that applies to the individual case.
Read the full article.

Kimberly Lewis says:
Sep 21, 2015 08:31 PM

Mrs. Kimberly Lewis
379 Foxglove Street
Pittsburg CA 94565
(925) 481-6808

To whom it may concern,

I am contacting you in regards to a friend of mine, Trayton Landroche AP1378 who is currently held at Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego CA, who I am highly concerned about and left me in charge of his affairs. I am concerned because I haven't received any calls or letters from him. I know he filed an appeal in regards to his items being lost / stolen. He has been falsely accused and incarcerated on committing a 180 Violation for a Third Party Violation. Parole board told him that never happened and there's no record of it they said. However we do have all the proof that it did happen. We have the Evidence / Proof from the Hearing from the Minutes Tape to the Transcripts along with all of his court documents and his Previous Parole discharge card.

I called the Parole Head Quarters myself and spoke to an Officer Bryant and she stated from what she can see that he is a non violent offender and she sees No Parole violation listed on her screen and that he's at Donovan. We talked for about 4 more minutes and that was the end of the conversation. I have been in communications with Trayton's previous attorney and Public Defender, hence my continually effort and work to get his story out. I have contacted numerous TV stations all of the areas from San Diego to SF Bay area and even LA, Innocent Project and Criminal / Prison Rights Attorneys and Justin Brooks.

His whole case is messed up from being Falsely Accused of a Parole Violation (he wasn't on Parole), Falsified statements, Falsely accused of a 236, 237a charge with No Evidence based solely on he say / she say, Police Reports Revised (we have the before (no abuse) and after Reports meeting with DA and (adding abuse on report), to Clerical errors that remain (uncorrected) after sitting and being transferred around from County to Chino then to CRC then to the hole for 5 months and 16 days at Chino and now currently at Donovan, adding up to nearly 4 years of false imprisonment with 4 more left to do.

On April 10, 2015 he attempted suicide and was in the hospital for 10 days at Chino before being transferred. This is a person who’s always remained working 2 and three jobs to pay and make his way and into Modeling and Acting gigs. Many can speak on behalf of him in positive ways about him as a person and his work ethics. He is a Low Level offender who should be in a Fire Camp, let alone released already. He is serving more time than most Rapists and Pedophiles, and housed with them and Murderers. His appeals go un-answered; he turns in requests to the counselor only to see her toss it away. Many things are not adding up in his case and should be brought to light, many questions need answers and people should be held accountable for the mishandling of his case. Trayton's case needs to be reviewed, he is due credits that he hasn't received and still sits in a cell awaiting, receiving nothing. No one is giving him answers while he sits falsely accused and his case full of errors remains uncorrected. All the false accusation stem all around his unborn daughter at the time. The mother wanted him no where around her and made sure of that. The mother turned his life upside down, his mother and sister’s life. Her timeline of incidents where all premeditated on her behalf to meddle in others life to manipulate the situation and get Trayton behind bars, and her plans all worked. All the evidence is within his court papers on record and what we have. She manipulated the system and used his unborn daughter against him. How everyone can oversee all the proof in his favor and be okay with it is unbelievable.

While in custody in Trayton has been subjected to solitary confinement with no outside contact, nature light, family visits nor phone call privileges. He has been denied to leave his cell; falsely accused by Correctional Officer’s within the jail of selling drugs, falsified drug tests claiming he’s was positive. Anytime Trayton has tested before random or not he has never failed a test ever. While incarcerated he has contracted Staph Infection, Positive for TB, boils, planters fasciitis due to wearing improper shoes with insufficient support for his foot issue that continues to be untreated. He has developed lumps in his chest areas and has expressed pain and discomfort from them and has been denied medical treatment, x-rays and etc. He is denied going outside to the yard, not allowed to leave his cell on nights, weekends or Holidays. But from the last time I received contact by mail he wasn’t allowed to leave his cell at all. No Law Library usage, not able to do nothing but stay in his cell all day with no privileges. Why is that? Falsely accused and incarcerated in a higher level then the crime charged and housed with much higher charged criminals then himself is not helping his mental state. I find this very harsh confinement for his supposed crime.

From being in Solitary confinement he has been diagnosed with PTSD, Depression, High Blood Pressure and Anxiety. The treatment he is receiving is not justifiable for the crime he is being falsely charged for. He is being housed and treated like a murderer. Trayton is constantly being moved from one jail to another under debilitating an extreme treatment and conditions an deprivations that strip human beings of their basic dignity and humanity in violation of contemporary standards of decency and constitutes cruel an unusual treatment and punishment as prohibited by the 8th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

I need to know if my friend is safe or even alive. I would appreciate it if anyone can give me answers or help with his case to bring all these discrepancies to light. Trayton is also Brian Banks friend who during his incarceration; served time with him. He knows what it feels like to be falsely accused but left to sit in a cell awaiting someone to just hear his case over and someone who cares enough to Care, about doing what's right and admit to error and fix it. He needs a voice, much larger than mine.

Thank you,

Kimberly A. Lewis

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