Senator Joel Anderson’s (R-El Cajon) Senate Bill (SB) 336 was signed by Governor Brown today. This new legislation will ensure that wrongfully convicted individuals are eligible for transitional services by the California Department of Corrections upon being released. These services include identification cards, housing assistance, job training, and mental health services for the six months after release from custody.
Before SB 336, individuals exonerated by the courts through a writ of habeas corpus that resulted in charges dismissed or being released pending a retrial or appeal would not have access to the same transitional services traditional inmates get when they finish serving their sentences.
Kimberly Long was sentenced 15 years to life for a crime she didn’t commit before California Innocence Project helped her prove her innocence and got her conviction reversed. She explained the importance of transitional services, “Upon my release from prison, for a crime I did not commit, I was left with nothing. If it wasn’t for the support of my family and Senator Anderson, I would be struggling to stay afloat. SB 336 will help innocent people like me, get back on their feet and avoid being victimized again.”
"SB 336 will ensure that innocent people have access to critical services so that they can get back on their feet and move on with their lives," said Alex Simpson, Associate Director of the California Innocence Project, one of the bill’s sponsors. "We are very happy that the governor and the legislature support this effort to benefit exonerees and society as a whole. This is truly a great day for criminal justice."
The bill passed both houses of legislature with unanimous bipartisan support.
Anderson said “SB 336 closes an unjust loophole that sends exonerated individuals out of prison with less support than a guilty prisoner who completes their sentence. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the legislature and to Governor Brown for making sure California takes this necessary step for our justice system.”