BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 648
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 13, 2011

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair

              AB 648 (Block and Fletcher) - As Amended:  April 6, 2011 

          Policy Committee:                              Public 
          SafetyVote:  6-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program: 
          Yes    Reimbursable:              Yes

           SUMMARY  

          This bill requires that at least 30 days before the governor 
          acts upon an application for a commutation of sentence, written 
          notice of the intention to apply for the commutation must be 
          provided to the district attorney in the county where the 
          offender was convicted. (Current law requires 10 days for a 
          pardon, but is silent regarding a commutation.) In addition, 
          this bill: 

          1)Authorizes the district attorney to submit a written 
            recommendation to the governor regarding the commutation.

          2)Requires the district attorney to notify the victim or victims 
            of the related crime or crimes, as well as the victim's 
            families, who may submit a recommendation to the governor 
            regarding the commutation.

          3)Recasts existing law that requires the governor to report to 
            the Legislature at the beginning of each session each pardon 
            or commutation, and to make these reports available to the 
            public.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)Minor state-reimbursable costs to district attorneys to notify 
            victims and families of potential pardons or commutation. Only 
            14 commutations have been granted over the past 30 years.  

          2)Negligible costs to the Governor's Office to make a written 
            report available to the public every two years regarding 
            pardons and commutations. 








                                                                  AB 648
                                                                  Page  2


           COMMENTS  

           1)Rationale  . The author and proponents (primarily law 
            enforcement) contend this bill provides additional input - 
            from victims and district attorneys - and adds transparency to 
            the process by which commutations may be issued by the 
            governor.

           2)Frequency of commutations and pardons  . A pardon, generally 
            granted years after a person is released from prison, 
            essentially forgives the crime and restores certain civil 
            rights, but does not erase a conviction. A pardon may be 
            granted outright by the governor, or it may follow the 
            granting of a certificate of rehabilitation. A commutation is 
            a sentence reduction and generally does not include a pardon.  
                                                                       

            According to information released in January by Gov. 
            Schwarzenegger's office:

                                    Commutations                             
                                                                      
                                    Pardons
             
            Gov Schwarzenegger       10             16   

            Gov. Davis                    0        0

            Gov. Wilson                   3      10

            Gov. Deukmejian                    0      328

            Gov. Brown                    1    403

            Gov. Reagan                   17   575



           Analysis Prepared by  :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081