No, Evan Smith, "exonerated" is not "too strong a word" when describing what happened last week to Thomas McGowan, the 16th Dallas County prisoner freed after DNA testing revealed he wasn't guilty of the crime for which he'd been convicted and sentenced to prison for 23 years. Smith, the editor of Texas Monthly, interviewed Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins yesterday for a phone-call podcast, during which Watkins says the county's actually conducted 40 DNA tests, 16 of which resulted in exonerations.
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Smith asks Watkins why the county didn't DNA test before his election. Simple, says Watkins: "This is a political position, and the political climate wanted that whole tough-on-crime approach, ands, fortunately, we have seen the political failures of that and gotten past that. ... It's politics. [And] the majority of the commissioners in Dallas County are Republicans." Then it gets really interesting. Worth a download. --Robert Wilonsky