Governor Newsom signs legislation sponsored by Exonerated Nation

Sacramento – Today, on International Wrongful Conviction Day (10/2/19), Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 701 into law. The legislation is authored by assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and sponsored by Exonerated Nation, a non-profit advocacy organization.

The bill makes California the first state in the country to pay for housing of exonerees upon their release from state prison.

AB 701, which takes effect January 1, 2020, provides hotel, rent, and/or mortgage payments for up to four years after release for someone who was wrongfully convicted, sent to state prison, and eventually exonerated by a court. On average, the wrongfully convicted spend more than a decade in prison before being exonerated.

“Words cannot capture the severe emotional, psychological, and financial challenges exonerees face when the prison gates finally open and we are free again. We are expected to somehow find a way to survive after being wrongfully imprisoned and never knowing if we will see the outside world again. Having immediate access to housing is absolutely critical as we transition to our long-awaited freedom,” said Obie Anthony Executive Director of Exonerated Nation, the sponsor of AB 701. Mr. Anthony served 17 years of a life sentence for a double homicide in California prisons before being exonerated in 2011. “On behalf of all exonerees and the wrongfully convicted, I want to thank Governor Newsom for recognizing that housing is the key to a successful transition from being wrongfully imprisoned. We are also grateful to Assemblymember Weber for caring about those of us who were wrongfully convicted.”

Background information:

AB 701: Authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego); Bill passed unanimously throughout the legislative process.

Obie Anthony was 20 years old when he was sentenced to life in prison for a double homicide in Los Angeles County. He was represented by the Northern California Innocence Project and the Loyola Project for the Innocent. He was released in 2011 after 17 years in California state prison.

Annual cost of state prison housing is approximately $81,000, according the Legislative Analyst’s Office (https://lao.ca.gov/policyareas/cj/6_cj_inmatecost)

AB 701 housing requirements: authorizes payments for hotel, rent, or mortgages up to specified monthly limits, which includes 25% above rates adopted by the federal General Services Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Housing Administration.

AB 701 takes effect January 1, 2020 and applies to any exoneree released on or after this date.

On average, 6 individuals are exonerated each year in California.

OBIE ANTHONY is available for interviews. Please contact (916) 447-9719.