Project Cope

Research conducted for and by exonerated individuals, this survey aims to understand coping mechanisms and needs among people who were wrongfully incarcerated.  

In partnership with Exonerated Nation, our research team includes exonerees Gloria Killian and Zavion Johnson and faculty from the Touro University California Public Health Program.

Meet our team!

Our organizations are committed to the belief that exonerees have every right to pursue their dreams, feel safe, reunite with their families, and heal.  We are committed to highlighting the public health impacts of incarceration and providing evidence to support policy recommendations that establish a framework to safeguard access to mental health services and support for exonerees.

While limited, research suggests that the unique trauma of wrongful conviction has profound adverse mental health implications which challenge reintegration, well-being and healing.  In this study we examined exoneree perceptions of their mental health and coping mechanisms used to support healing:

What Promotes healing among the wrongfully convicted?  Results from a qualitative study of exonerated persons in California
(published October 2021)

AB701 Housing Assistance Law at Work

First person finds home under California’s wrongfully convicted housing law after serving 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Jeremy Puckett is the first exoneree in the country to move into a home with help from the State. 

EN and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) a statewide association of criminal defense attorneys in private practice and working in public defenders offices, teamed up with Assembly member Shirley Weber (San Diego) on Assembly Bill 701, which was passed in 2019 and took effect January 1, 2020.

The bill requires the State of California to pay for housing costs, such as move-in deposits and monthly rents, for exonerees for up to four years.

Jeremy was welcomed home with a surprise Zoom housewarming party attended by Assembly member Weber, Obie Anthony, his legal team from Northern California Innocence Project and reps from CACJ and Lyon Property Management who worked with Puckett on his rental application, qualifications and found a house for him.

“When I was released, I really didn’t know how I was going to find a place to live.  I was relieved to finally be free, but worried about what was next.  Without AB 701, I don’t know where I would be.”

PressRelease_July-1-2020

More About Our Policy Work

GIVE

Policy Changes

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Exonerated Nation Influences Policy Change
For Exonerees in California!

 

Since 2015, Exonerated Nation has worked with California policy makers to develop legislation to improve the lives of exonerees and overall criminal justice reform with the following legislation:

AB 672 (Jones-Sawyer) -2015, Obie’s Law:

  • Provide free drivers license or identification card (DMV)
  • Provide transitional services: housing assistance, job training, mental health services (CDCR). Same as the services provided to parole’s

AB 1909 (Lopez) -2016, Felony for prosecutorial misconduct

  • Expanded law that makes it a felony for a peace officer to willfully and intentionally tamper with evidence to include a prosecutor who intentionally and in bad faith withholds exculpatory evidence.

SB 1050 (Lara) -2018, Gate Money

  • Given $1,000 dollars gate money upon release
  • Enrollment in Medi-Cal and CalFresh programs
  • Provide transition services for 6 months to 1 year.
  • CDCR must notify DOJ of exoneration and DOJ must immediately the person’s criminal history information

AB 701 (Weber) -2019, Exoneree Housing

  • $5,000 dollars upon release for housing expenses
  • Receive direct payment or reimbursement for reasonable housing costs for 4 years

AB 703 (Weber) -2019, Exoneree Higher Education

  • No statewide tuition or fees for exonerated individuals attending a public college or university in California.
  • Applies to the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges

 

We are so grateful to Assembly members, Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Patty Lopez, and Shirley Weber, and Sens. Holly Mitchell and Ricardo Lara their leadership to impact change  toward  improving the lives and status for exonerees in the State of California.  In addition, we are grateful to Governor Gavin Newsom who signed Assembly Bills 701 and 703 into law in 2019.

For more information, please contact us at: 707-656-5994

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