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April 4, 2016
Contact: Amy Starnes
Public Information Director, State Bar of Texas
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1706, or (512) 427-1706

TYLA launches campaign to fight wrongful convictions

 AUSTIN — In 1765 Sir William Blackstone famously proclaimed: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

Blackstone’s formulation, as it came to be known, is a theme repeated time and again in conscientious societies. However, according to a 2014 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, as many as 4.1 percent of the nation’s capital punishment sentences are wrongful or erroneous convictions. And for the third consecutive year, the National Registry of Exonerations reports that Texas had more exonerations than anywhere else in the country.

The Texas Young Lawyers Association suggests part of the answer to curing the problem of wrongful conviction, one that will incrementally make a difference, is education. The idea begins with a simple question: “What can I do to improve our criminal justice system?”

TYLA has launched And Justice For All: Preventing Wrongful Convictions Through Education, an interactive website and campaign that aims to educate the public and the legal profession about the most common causes of wrongful conviction and the toll it has taken on exonerees’ lives. And Justice For All also suggests steps to be taken to improve the criminal justice system from investigation through to trial.

At viewers can watch high-profile exonerees like Michael Morton, Christopher Scott, and Juan Melendez share their experiences. They can listen to top experts discuss the major issues that cause wrongful convictions and how to address them and hear judges explain their thoughts on improving the system.

“People’s eyes have been opened lately to a tragedy that has gone unnoticed for many years,” TYLA President Barrett Thomas said. “Wrongful convictions do occur, and they occur at a frequency that many simply don’t want to believe. Yet, nobody gets into the practice of criminal law wanting to participate in a case that sends an innocent person to prison. That is what makes this project so unique and so important.”

TYLA designed the project to be universally accepted by prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the community at large, Thomas said. “It is a program that can correct tragedies before they ever occur,” he said. “Through education, we can better our system of criminal justice to ensure that justice is truly done.”

A $45,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation helped to fund the project. Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $16 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably funded bar foundation. 

Read the Texas Bar Journal story on the campaign at The campaign can be found at or visit

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Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA), known as the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas, works to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. For more information, visit

The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. For more information, follow us on Twitter @statebaroftexas, like us on Facebook at, or visit

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