Current Legislative Session
NCIP’s legislative efforts currently focus on regulating California’s use of jailhouse informants, improving California’s practices for retention and preservation of evidence, and expanding access to post-release services for exonerees.
AB 359 (Caps payments to informants, requires tracking of informant work and requires disclosure of detailed informant histories to defense counsel)
NCIP is co-sponsoring AB 359 which aims to regulate the use of jailhouse informants. Informant testimony is a leading cause of wrongful convictions. The bill caps all monetary and non-monetary payments to informants at $100 per case, including any investigatory work. Currently, the cap is $50 per case for testimony and no limit in compensation for investigation. Additionally, the bill requires prosecutors to keep databases that track informant work and locations, and to turn detailed informant histories over to defense attorneys no later than 30 days before the preliminary hearing.
AB 1128 (Requires phsycial evidence and exhibits are retained for the length of the sentence in homicide and sexual assault cases)
NCIP is co-sponsoring AB 1128 which mandates the preservation of physical evidence and exhibits in homicide and sexual assault cases for the length of an inmate’s sentence. AB 1128 closes a loophole in California law which allows for the destruction of court exhibits and physical evidence once notice is provided to the interested parties, including the convicted inmate. The current notice requirement is not sufficient or effective. Without representation and assistance, most inmates lack the knowledge and skill to properly and effectively object to the destruction even if they are notified in time. The current requirements also do not take into account that the destruction of evidence during a person’s incarceration prevents them from taking advantage of developments in forensic science that may ultimately prove their innocence.
SB 336 (Amends the language by which to determine whether an exonerated person is eligible for services under “Obie’s Law”)
In 2015, NCIP supported AB 672, which required the California Department of Corrections to help exonerees obtain identification cards and transitional services after their release from prison. The bill was named “Obie’s Law” after NCIP exoneree Obie Anthony who testified in support of it. However, Obie’s Law does not currently apply to all exonerees. It makes re-entry services available to exonerees only if their conviction was reversed and innocence established based on very narrow, specific language: new evidence of innocence that “completely undermines the prosecution’s case and points unerringly to innocence.” NCIP is co-sponsoring SB 336 which will change that language and make re-entry services available to individuals who successfully establish their innocence based on new evidence which would have “more likely than not changed the outcome at trial” or based on challenging false scientific evidence (“junk science”).