The California State Senate today passed AB 703 (Weber), which would provide free UC, CSU, and community college tuition in California to those who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated. This bill, authored by Assemblymember Weber and sponsored by Exonerated Nation and the California Attorney’s for Criminal Justice (CACJ), will now return to the State Assembly for a final vote before going to Governor Newsom for his signature.
Exonerated persons are often released with limited resources after having been deprived of all the opportunities that come with life outside of prison. Exonerees often spend decades behind bars, years they could have spent pursuing higher education and a career. A majority of exonerees never reach the same income level they had before their incarceration and are often financially dependent on others, like family, friends, or attorneys.
Higher Education and a college degree are recognized as a path to financial stability and the middle class. According to The College Board, higher education corresponds to lower levels of unemployment, poverty, and incarceration. AB 703 will open up that path to exonerees, after their false incarceration slammed the door to higher education.
Exonerated Nation would like to thank Assemblymember Weber for authoring AB 703 and the State legislature for recognizing and attempting to correct the mistakes our criminal justice system has made.