Current Policy Reform Efforts

The California Innocence Coalition– the Northern California Innocence Project, the California Innocence Project, and Loyola Project for the Innocent – work on policy reform to help reduce the risks of a wrongful conviction, intervene when a wrongful conviction has occurred, and to assist our freed clients in transitioning home upon their release from prison. To learn how a bill becomes a law, click here.

SB 467 – Expert Witness: Writ of Habeas Corpus

On February 16, 2021, Senator Scott Weiner (D-11th District) introduced CIC-sponsored SB 467, a bill that articulates the definition of false testimony to ensure that anyone wrongfully convicted of a crime due to faulty and/or unreliable scientific evidence may seek post-conviction relief. SB 467 also establishes a path for the innocent to prove their wrongful conviction when it was based on expert opinions relying on flawed scientific research or outdated technology that is now unreliable or about which a reasonable scientific dispute has emerged regarding its validity. Faulty forensic science is a leading contributing factor to wrongful convictions, occurring in 45% of DNA exoneration cases nationwide, 24% of all exonerations in the nation, and 15% of the California exoneration cases known since 1989. In wrongful conviction cases, experts offered testimony that was critical evidence leading to the conviction that was either flawed forensic science or scientific methods that are widely debated within the scientific community. This bill provides an additional tool for individuals seeking to challenge their convictions. 

Fact Sheet
FAQ
Advocacy Toolkit 
Senator Scott Weiner’s Message

AB 2644 – Juvenile Custodial Interrogations Bill

On February 18, 2022, Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-41st District) introduced CIC-supported AB 2644, a bill that prohibits law enforcement from using threats, physical harm, deception, or psychologically manipulative tactics during an interrogation of persons 25 years or younger. These tactics have been scrutinized and criticized by experts in social science and factions of the law enforcement community as they increase the risk of obtaining false confessions and wrongful convictions. There is no justice for crime survivors, victims, victims’ families, or the innocent when a wrongful conviction occurs. If passed, this bill will further a national movement to confront this serious issue of law enforcement’s use of deceptive interrogation tactics on youth. According to the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth (CWCY), false confessions are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions, accounting for roughly 25% of all convictions that were later overturned based on DNA evidence. Juries view a confession as a significant piece of direct evidence of one’s guilt yet struggle with understanding how someone might falsely implicate themselves or another in criminal conduct. This bill follows newly enacted laws in Illinois, the first state to pass legislation that prohibits police officers from using deceptive interrogation tactics on children, Oregon, and Utah.

Fact Sheet
FAQ
Advocacy Toolkit
Recent Press Release

SB 981 – Criminal Procedure: Factual Innocence

On February 10, 2022, Senator Steve Glazer (Principal coauthor Senator Josh Becker, and coauthors Senator Anna Caballero and Assembly Member Tom Lackey) introduced SB 981, Criminal Procedure: Factual Innocence. This bill further extends SB 446-passed in 2021- to ensure that the two processes in seeking compensation for the wrongfully convicted (either through the Victim’s Compensation Board or the courts) are aligned and not unduly burdensome on the state litigators responding to these claims. Last year, SB 446 (also authored by Senators Glazer and Becker) was a significant piece of legislation that was passed making a more fair and equitable compensation process by shifting the burden of proof from the wrongfully convicted person to the Attorney General in compensation proceedings that proceed in front of the Victim’s Compensation Board. However, SB 446 did not shift that burden to the District Attorney’s office, the party of interest for the state, if a wrongfully convicted person instead chose to pursue the existing process through the court. Instead of placing the burden of proof on the wrongfully convicted to prove to the court that they are factually innocent after they spent years proving to the court that they were wrongfully convicted and their convictions were reversed and dismissed, SB 981 recognizes these individuals are once again presumed innocent, and therefore the burden instead shifts to the District Attorney. The District Attorney’s office must then prove by clear and convincing evidence that the wrongfully convicted is not entitled to compensation.

Fact Sheet
FAQ
Advocacy Toolkit

Bills Supported by CIC

AB 256 Racial Justice Act for All

AB 256 Racial Justice Act for All ensures that AB 2542 Racial Justice Act (2020) is applied retroactively. The Racial Justice Act prohibits the use of race, ethnicity, or national origin in sentencing and convictions.
Fact Sheet
Advocacy Toolkit
CIC Letter of Support

AB 2632 CA Mandela Act

AB 2632 CA Mandela Act provides a clear definition of what constitutes solitary confinement across all facilities and sets limits on how it can be used for specific populations (vulnerable, pregnant, disabilities).
Fact Sheet
Advocacy Toolkit
CIC Letter of Support

AB 1608 The Angelo Quinto Act

AB 1608 will separate the duties of the Coroner’s Office from the duties of the Sheriff’s Office across all counties in California. This division will strengthen the medical examination process, thereby increasing accountability and transparency by providing independent, quality, cause of death investigations.

CIC Letter of Support

AB 2250 Women’s Reentry Services

AB 2250 will create a pilot program for women being released from prison that would be responsive to each woman’s gender and culture, create an individualized reentry program, develop professional skills, provide assistance in the form of subsidies, and focus on family reunification, as provided. 

CIC Letter of Support

SB 1468 Factual Innocence: Certification

SB 1468 provides that exonerees, upon being found factually innocent, be afforded a Certificate of Innocence.
The bill further requires ‘rap sheets’ to be annotated to reflect findings of factual innocence. Both measures will better ensure that one’s
exonerated status is duly recognized.

CIC Letter of Support

SB 993 Victim Services and Support for All

SB 993 would remove the proof-of-injury requirement for the Victims Compensation Board, expand financial resources available to the wrongfully convicted by allowing exonerees to recover attorney fees and costs related to overturning their wrongful conviction, and allow for compensation from time spent on parole or supervised.

CIC Letter of Support

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