BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 648
                                                                  Page  1

          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
          AB 648 (Block and Fletcher)
          As Amended  August 15, 2011
          Majority vote
           
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |ASSEMBLY:  |68-0 |(April 25,      |SENATE: |34-0 |(August 22,    |
          |           |     |2011)           |        |     |2011)          |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
            
           Original Committee Reference:    PUB. S.  

           SUMMARY  :  Requires that at least 10 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, except as specified.  

           The Senate amendments  : 

          1)Reduce the required notice to the district attorney from 30 
            days to 10 days.

          2)Suspend the ten day notice requirement when there is imminent 
            danger of the death of a person convicted or imprisoned, or 
            when the term of imprisonment of the applicant is within 10 
            days of its expiration.

          3)Clarify that the district attorney need only make reasonable 
            efforts to notify the victim or victims of the crime.

           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 








                                                                  AB 648
                                                                  Page  2

            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.  
           
          AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY  , this bill required 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)Required 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)Provided that the district attorney may submit a written 
            recommendation to the Governor for or against commutation of 








                                                                  AB 648
                                                                  Page  3

            sentence.

          3)Required 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)Recasted 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.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations 
          Committee:

                            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

           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 








                                                                  AB 648
                                                                  Page  4

          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 analysis for a full discussion 
          of this bill.
           

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


                                                               FN: 0001836