Governor Brown Signs New Law to Help the Wrongfully Convicted

Five exonerated individuals in the Capitol in January lobbying for many of these provisions

(From Press Release) – On Sunday evening Senate Bill 1050, authored by State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill provides transitional assistance upon release from prison to individuals who have been wrongfully convicted. This includes $1000 in ‘gate’ money, immediate enrollment into Medi-Cal (healthcare) Cal-Fresh (food) and state job training programs. The bill is designed to address immediate needs of exonerees.

“After spending 17 years in state prison for a crime I did not commit, I was released from custody with absolutely nothing and expected to rebuild my life on my own,” said Obie Anthony, Executive Director of Exonerated Nation an Oakland-based non-profit.

Mr. Anthony was incarcerated for 17 years for a murder he did not commit. After being released, Mr. Anthony had to rebuild his life without a safety net, including a lack of access to employment programs and healthcare. Since his exoneration in 2011 Obie has dedicated time to reforming criminal justice policy and working with exonerees on their transition from prison.

In contrast, parolees receive gate money yet someone who is exonerated does not. This small payment is intended to be used for the first few days of housing and other needs.

“It’s tragic that exonerees have unfairly lost years of their lives behind bars and when they are finally released, they are told “good luck” and provided no immediate help. SB 1050 will at least give exonerees a place to stay and food for the first few days of their freedom” added Ignacio Hernandez legislative advocate for California Attorneys for Criminal Justice who co-sponsored the bill.

Key Points from SB 1050:

  • Automatic Medi-Cal and Cal-Fresh enrollment
  • $1,000 ‘gate’ money
  • Eligibility for state job training and placement programs
  • Enrollment in the federal supplemental security income benefits program and state supplemental program
  • Transitional services are offered within the first week and again within the first 30 days of exoneration

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