On August 15, 2019, NCIP held its first-ever Exoneree Summit at Santa Clara University for exonerees and their family members. At the day-long summit, exonerees, NCIP staff, and guest presenters discussed, among other things, how to improve exoneree services, and how best to engage exonerees and their family members in NCIP’s policy work. The summit was an ideal forum for NCIP staff, exonerees, and other advocates to come together, compare strategies, and share knowledge. NCIP staff and attorneys presented, moderated, and spoke on panels for many of the sessions. Exoneree participants deeply valued being able to connect with others who had similar experiences, having their experiences validated, and learning about new available resources.
The relationships NCIP developed through the summit will help us to reform the criminal justice system. Importantly, NCIP can now call on additional criminal justice reform advocates in California; links were made across the state with exoneree participants coming from Southern California, the Central Valley and Northern California. Many of the exoneree participants had not previously worked with NCIP, and since the summit, have expressed interest in testifying in support of NCIP-sponsored legislation and participating in other public speaking engagements.
NCIP intends to hold an exoneree summit annually.