BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                           Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair

                                          AB 648 (Block)

          Hearing Date: 07/11/2011        Amended: 07/06/2011
          Consultant: Jolie Onodera       Policy Vote: Public Safety 7-0
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          BILL SUMMARY: AB 648 would require that at least 10 days before 
          the Governor acts upon an application for a commutation of 
          sentence, written notice of the intention to apply for the 
          commutation be served upon the district attorney of the county 
          where the offender was convicted. In addition, this bill would:
             1)   Authorize the district attorney to submit a written 
               recommendation to the Governor regarding the commutation;
             2)   Require the district attorney to make reasonable efforts 
               to notify the victim(s) of the crime or related crimes, as 
               well as the victims' families, who may also submit a 
               recommendation to the Governor regarding the commutation;
             3)   Recast existing law that requires the Governor to report 
               to the Legislature at the beginning of each session, 
               information on each case of reprieve, pardon, and 
               commutation, and require the report to be made available to 
               the public. 
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          ____
                            Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

           Major Provisions         2011-12      2012-13       2013-14     Fund
           
          Notification to victimsUnknown; likely minor state-reimbursable  
                                 General
          and families           costs

          Public availability of Minor and absorbable costs to the General
          report to Legislature  Governor's Office
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          STAFF COMMENTS: 
          
          The California Constitution 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 has been entered except in cases of 








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          impeachment. Further, 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.

          Existing statutory law requires that at least 10 days before the 
          Governor acts upon any application for a pardon, written notice 
          of the intention to apply therefore, signed by the person 
          applying, shall be served 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. This bill would 
          provide that the same process of written notification to 
          district attorneys for an application for a pardon be provided 
          for an application for a commutation of sentence. This bill 
          would also authorize the district attorney to submit a written 
          recommendation to the Governor for or against commutation of 
          sentence.
          This bill would require the district attorney to make reasonable 
          efforts to notify the victim or victims of the crime or related 
          crimes, and the families of the victims, who may also submit a 
          recommendation to the Governor for or against commutation of 
          sentence. By placing additional requirements on district 
          attorneys, costs incurred for the notification of victims and 
          families would be state-reimbursable. Only 14 commutations have 
          been granted over the past 35 years. Additionally, based on 
          information from the Board of Parole Hearings, three 
          applications for commutation of sentence were submitted in 2009, 
          and five applications were submitted in 2010. As a result, 
          state-reimbursable costs are likely to be minor.

          Staff notes a proposal in 2009-10 to commute the sentences of 
          approximately 8,500 undocumented felons who had been identified 
          by the federal government for deportation upon their release 
          from state prison was considered but not implemented. The 
          likelihood of a similar proposal being considered in the future 
          is unknown, however, if such a proposal were to be implemented, 
          state-reimbursable costs resulting from the provisions of this 
          bill could be more significant.

          Existing law requires the Governor to, at the beginning of every 
          session, communicate to the Legislature, in addition to each 
          case of reprieve or pardon, each commutation, stating the name 
          of the person convicted, the crime of which the person was 
          convicted, the sentence and its date, the date of the 
          commutation and the reason for granting the same. This bill 








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          would recast the above provision and require the Governor to 
          file a written report with the Legislature that shall include 
          each application that was granted for reprieve, pardon, or 
          commutation, as specified, and would require the written report 
          to be made available to the public. Costs to the Governor's 
          Office to make the written report available to the public are 
          estimated to be minor and absorbable within existing resources.