District Attorney Craig Watkins honored with esteemed ‘Justice Policy Innovator’ award
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins was recently honored as the recipient of the 2013 ‘Justice Policy Innovator’ award from the Law & Public Policy section of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Each year, the ACJS honors an innovator in criminal justice at their annual academic conference.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the ACJS, entitled “The Politics of Crime and Criminal Justice,” and was hosted in Dallas with participants from across the nation. ACJS is comprised of criminal justice academics, and also law enforcement officers and practitioners.
District Attorney Watkins received the prestigious award for his creation of the Conviction Integrity Unit that reviews and re-investigates legitimate post conviction claims of innocence. Dr. Craig Hemmens, President of ACJS, said, “Wrongful convictions, and the pursuit of justice for all, is a key issue for all concerned with the criminal justice system, including those of us, in ACJS who study it and teach students about it.” Dr. Hemmens also serves as the Department Head of Criminology & Criminal Justice at Missouri State University.
Dr. Randall Grometstein, Chair of the Behavioral Science Department at Fitchburg State University nominated DA Watkins for the prestigious award. “Designees may be citizens acting in civil society, employees or administrators of criminal justice agencies, members of the judiciary or the legal profession, or scholars,” said Grometstein. “District Attorney Watkins’ national leadership has led in recent years to prosecutors being involved in a higher proportion of exonerations than in the past.”
District Attorney Watkins was honored to receive the award and is hopeful that the recognition casts a broader understanding to the importance of the Conviction Integrity Unit. “This award exemplifies that law enforcement offices throughout the nation are interested in a new way of doing business,” said Watkins. “We must have integrity when prosecuting cases. It simply comes down to being smart on crime.”