On September 28, Governor Brown signed all three of NCIP’s -sponsored and -supported bills into law, significantly changing the landscape for innocence cases in California.

Photo: Joe McHugh

Photo: Joe McHugh

NCIP-sponsored Senate Bill 1134, authored by Democratic Senator Mark Leno and Republican Senator Joel Anderson, makes it easier for wrongfully convicted people in California to use new evidence to prove their innocence. For far too long, Californians convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit have struggled, and most often failed, to prove their innocence because the standard of proof, “points unerringly to innocence,” was almost impossible to meet.

When this bill goes into effect on January 1, 2017, wrongfully convicted people with strong new evidence of innocence will be able to show that had the new evidence been available at the original trial, they more likely than not would have been acquitted of the crime. The new standard brings California into line with the standards of 43 other states.

Senate Bill 1389, also sponsored by NCIP, requires law enforcement to electronically record interrogations of all murder suspects. Previously, police were only required to record interrogations of juvenile murder suspects. This new law, authored by Democratic Senators Steve Glazer and Ed Hernandez and supported by a bipartisan coalition, will help reduce false confessions and will support proper interrogation practices.

NCIP-supported Assembly Bill 813, authored by Democratic Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, will, for the first time, enable innocent people to challenge their wrongful convictions even if they are no longer incarcerated. This new law gives innocent people hope that they can clear their names even after they have been released.

We are grateful to the legislators who authored these important bills and are gratified for the strong bipartisan support that the bills had. Particular thanks go to NCIP Policy Director Lucy Salcido Carter for her hard work and careful stewardship of these efforts. Finally, a special thanks to NCIP supporters, whose support has led to this moment and enabled real change to the landscape for innocence in California.