Tulia ten years later

The 40th anniversary of the Apollo mission to the moon is on everyone’s mind these days, but there was another big anniversary this week that shouldn’t be overlooked: On July 23, 1999, dozens of mostly African-American citizens of Tulia, Texas, were arrested and subsequently convicted on drug trafficking charges that all hinged on the word of an undercover officer who was known at the time to be unreliable and was later convicted of perjury in these cases, after those whom he helped jail were set free. The Amarillo Globe-News notes the date, but for a real reminder I recommend going back to the original Texas Observer story by Nate Blakeslee that brought all of this shame to light. The sad thing, as Grits notes, is that the state of Texas ultimately did not correct the original wrong in this case. It is still possible to be convicted by a jury on the uncorroborated word of an undercover police officer. What has happened before will almost surely happen again.

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