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Pathway to address wrongful convictions proposed under new Assembly bill

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, on Tuesday announced the introduction of state legislation that would help address people wrongfully convicted of crimes.

Assembly Bill 2706 would establish Innocence Commission Pilot Programs, a panel of experts selected by three California district attorneys to review wrongful conviction claims.

According to Boudin’s office, the pilot program would be the first in the nation to address wrongful convictions for innocent people.

Boudin said in a statement:

Wrongful convictions undermine trust in our criminal legal system and violate fundamental principles of justice and due process. … Prosecutors are tasked with securing justice; doing so requires us to correct past injustices. I started the San Francisco District Attorney’s Innocence Commission to ensure that my office is not only moving forward but also looking backwards to right past wrongs.”

“California’s pursuit of justice requires us to seek the truth,” Levine said. “The incarceration of a wrongfully convicted person is a stain on our criminal justice system. AB 2706 will provide the courts, district attorneys and the public with an important tool to investigate and address credible claims of wrongful conviction of an incarcerated person. The creation of Innocence Commissions are necessary to resolve historic biases and ensure that all people have equitable access to justice.”

AB 2706 was inspired by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office Innocence Commission, which was established by Boudin in 2020 and evaluates cases in which jailed people assert and provide credible claims they’ve been wrongfully convicted.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, there have been more than 270 known wrongful convictions in California since 1989. Those convictions cost California taxpayers more than $275 million and resulted in innocent people losing a total of 2,104 years of their lives.

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