News 08.29.08

Compensation bill for California man is on governor’s desk

James Ochoa served 10 months in California prison, and 5 months in jail awaiting trial, for a carjacking DNA proves he didn’t commit. He was exonerated in 2006, but to date he hasn’t been compensated under

California’s law

– which pays exonerees $100 per day of wrongful imprisonment. As we’ve reported here before, Ochoa was initially denied access to compensation because he pled guilty – after a judge told him he could get 25 years to life in prison if he went to trial and lost. He was given a two-year sentence after pleading guilty.

The California compensation statute reads that, in order to receive compensation, the exoneree must not have “contribute(d) to the bringing about of his arrest or conviction for the crime with which he was charged." California officials first said the law excluded Ochoa because he pled guilty. But members of the state assembly took action to rectify this situation, and a bill to pay Ochoa $31,700 was passed earlier this month. The bill now awaits a signature by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

An improvement to California’s compensation law – which would eliminate the loophole that almost denied Ochoa’s compensation and increase the amount of compensation by a cost-of-living adjustment each year – is also awaiting the Governor’s signature. Republican Assemblyman Todd Spitzer discussed Ochoa's case in a recent speech in support of improvements to the general compensation law.

“As a society we have a responsibility to make that [injustice] right,” Republican Assemblyman Todd Spitzer said…“To be wrongfully charged, to sit in prison for 10 months and also Orange County Jail for an additional five months] for $31,700? That's unconscionable.”


Read the full blog post here

. (OC Weekly)

Innocence Project supporters in California are sending letters to Gov. Schwarzenegger this week urging him to sign the bill into law. If you’re in California –

send your own letter to the Governor today

. Otherwise, please

forward the action to your friends and family in California

.

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