BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 648
                                                                     Page  1


        ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
        AB 648 (Block and Fletcher)
        As Amended   April 6, 2011
        Majority vote 

         PUBLIC SAFETY       6-0         APPROPRIATIONS      14-0         
         
         ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
        |Ayes:|Ammiano, Knight, Hagman,  |Ayes:|Fuentes, Harkey,          |
        |     |Hill, Mitchell, Skinner   |     |Blumenfield, Bradford,    |
        |     |                          |     |Charles Calderon, Campos, |
        |     |                          |     |Davis, Donnelly, Gatto,   |
        |     |                          |     |Hall, Hill, Mitchell,     |
        |     |                          |     |Nielsen, Solorio          |
         ----------------------------------------------------------------- 

         SUMMARY  :  Requires that at least 30 days before the Governor acts 
        upon any application for a commutation of sentence, the application 
        must be served upon the district attorney in the county where the 
        conviction was had.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

        1)Requires that at least 30 days before the Governor acts upon any 
          application for a commutation of sentence, written notice of the 
          intention to apply therefor, signed by the person applying, shall 
          be upon the district attorney in the county where the conviction 
          was had, and proof, by affidavit, of the service shall be 
          presented to the Governor.

        2)Provides that the district attorney may submit a written 
          recommendation to the Governor for or against commutation of 
          sentence.

        3)Requires the district attorney to notify the victim or victims of 
          the crime or crimes related to the application and the victim's 
          families who may also submit a recommendation to the Governor for 
          or against commutation of sentence.

        4)Recasts existing provision of law that require the Governor, at 
          the beginning of each legislative session to report to the 
          Legislature each case of reprieve, pardon, or commutation, stating 
          the name of the person convicted, the crime of which the person 
          was convicted, the sentence and its date, and the date of the 
          reprieve, pardon or commutation and the reason for granting the 
          same, and makes these reports available to the public.








                                                                     AB 648
                                                                     Page  2



         EXISTING LAW  :

        1)Provides that subject to application procedures provided by 
          statute, the Governor, on conditions the Governor deems proper, 
          may grant a reprieve, pardon, and commutation, after sentence 
          except in cases of impeachment.  The Governor shall report to the 
          Legislature each reprieve, pardon, and commutation granted, 
          stating the pertinent facts and the reason for granting it.  The 
          Governor may not grant a pardon or commutation to a person twice 
          convicted of a felony except on recommendation of the Supreme 
          Court, four judges concurring.

        2)Requires that at least 10 days before the Governor acts upon any 
          application for a pardon, written notice of the intention to apply 
          therefor, signed by the person applying, shall be upon the 
          district attorney in the county where the conviction was had, and 
          proof, by affidavit, of the service must  be presented to the 
          Governor.  

        3)Provides that the Board of Prison Terms (BPT) may report to the 
          Governor from time to time, the names of all persons imprisoned in 
          any state prison, who in its judgment ought to have a commutation 
          of sentence, or be pardoned or set at liberty on account of good 
          conduct, or unusual term of sentence, or any other cause, 
          including evidence of intimate partner battering and its effects.  


        4)States that in the case of a person twice convicted of a felony, 
          the application for pardon or commutation of sentence shall be 
          made directly to the Governor, who shall transmit all papers and 
          documents relied upon in support of and in opposition to the 
          application to the BPT.  

        5)Provides that when an application is made to the Governor for 
          pardon or commutation of sentence, or when an application is 
          forwarded to the BPT, he or she may require the judge of the court 
          before which the conviction was had, or the district attorney by 
          whom the action was prosecuted, to furnish him or it, without 
          delay, with a summarized statement of the facts proved on the 
          trial, and of any other facts having reference to the propriety of 
          granting or refusing said application, together with his 
          recommendations for or against his granting of the same and his 
          reason for such recommendation.  








                                                                     AB 648
                                                                     Page  3



         FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee:

        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. 

         COMMENTS  :  According to the author, "The California Constitution 
        grants the Governor broad authority to grant reprieves, pardons, or 
        commutations subject to statutory procedures.  This long-standing 
        authority to perform acts of clemency is a constitutional 
        prerogative that provides important checks and balances.  However, 
        current statutory law governing procedures does not provide for 
        notice to district attorneys or victims or an opportunity to be 
        heard during the consideration of an application for commutation. 

        "AB 648 would remedy that omission by requiring the applicant of a 
        pardon or commutation request to notify the district attorney of the 
        county where the conviction occurred 30 days before the Governor 
        acts.  The district attorney would then notify the victim and their 
        family.  Both parties would have an opportunity to submit a written 
        recommendation for or against the commutation request to the 
        Governor.  Under current law district attorneys are notified of a 
        pardon request by the applicant only 10 days prior to a decision.    
         

        "The measure also strengthens transparency and oversight of the 
        process by requiring the Governor to submit a report to the 
        Legislature each year in writing on the pardon, reprieve and 
        commutation requests received that were granted.  AB 648 also 
        requires inclusion of the application request.  The report and 
        applications will be available to the public as well."  

        Please see the policy committee for a full discussion of this bill.
         

        Analysis Prepared by  :    Gregory Pagan / PUB. S. / (916) 319-3744 
        FN: 0000277










                                                                     AB 648
                                                                     Page  4