Greg Abbott Backs DNA-Testing Bill, Continues Unprecedented Streak of Reasonableness

Greg Abbott's acting strangely. It wasn't even two weeks ago that the Attorney General seemed to have given up his day job suing the Obama administration and just started trolling liberals full-time. But then, in a turn that was completely unexpected, Abbott was seized by an bout of reasonableness

The day after his liberal-trolling Facebook post implying that public school students should receive instruction in firearms and the Bible, he announced his support for a smart, we daresay progressive, update of the Open Meetings Act. Today, he threw his support behind SB 1292, an uncharacteristically reasonable proposal that would require pretrial DNA testing of all biological evidence in death-penalty cases.

"There's no reason to test these items more than a decade after the crime was committed," Abbott said Tuesday at a news conference alongside the bill's author, Rodney Ellis, a Houston Democrat. "We shouldn't live with suspense. The family of the victim shouldn't have to through this time after time after time in order to get certainty."

Abbott is careful to frame his support for Ellis' bill mainly as an effort to help victims' families, but it comes, of course, in the wake of an embarrassingly high number of overturned convictions. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 53 prisoners have been freed by DNA evidence, two of whom were serving on death row.

And that's the other reason Abbott says he's lending his support: to strengthen the death penalty. "The death penalty is right for Texas," he said in the press release. "It works when it punishes murderers, but it doesn't work if it executes innocent people. To be certain that only guilty murderers are executed, all evidence that can be tested for DNA should be tested for DNA -- before the case goes to trial."

Abbott's newfound passion for bipartisanship and rationality can probably be explained as an attempt to position himself as someone who can reach across the aisle to get things done in advance of his all-but-inevitable 2014 gubernatorial run. Whatever his motives, Abbott's on the right side of this particular argument, which has us wondering. Is he sure he's feeling well? Maybe he's feverish? He's been looking a little flushed lately. He should probably rest.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson