Brave Thinkers

More
Illustration by Quickhoney

Name: Craig Watkins
Job: Dallas District Attorney
Why he’s brave: He’s championing wrongly convicted prisoners and challenging unreasonable sentences.
Quote: “My job as the criminal district attorney for Dallas County is to seek truth and justice, not to feed the insatiable appetite of those who have political agendas.”


Prosecutors are not typically inclined to free lots of prisoners, especially in Texas. But Watkins, the state’s first black DA, has made a name for himself by crusading to free those who’ve been wrongly convicted—and in Dallas County, long known for its prosecutorial fervor, it turns out there are a lot of them. Watkins created a Conviction Integrity Unit to reassess questionable sentences using DNA testing, and since he came to office, 12 wrongly convicted prisoners have been exonerated, including James Woodard, who unjustly spent 27 years behind bars for the rape and murder of his girlfriend. Woodard is part of a disturbing trend: in the past two decades, 38 people have been exonerated in Texas, more than anywhere else in the country. Watkins clearly enjoys the spotlight—the Discovery Channel is filming his progress—and if more media attention leads to the overturning of more wrongful convictions, so much the better.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Breathtaking Tour Above the Moab Desert

Filmmaker Ian Cresswell rigs an HD camera atop a remote-controlled "octocopter" for some spectacular aerial views.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In