Gov. Jerry Brown and the legislature have been cutting down on prison overcrowding to comply with a federal court order, thus leading to a “realignment” policy that moves inmates from state-run prisons to county jails and a policy that may result in some early releases.
Whatever one thinks of the governor’s handling of this matter, it’s hard to understand why he hasn’t pursued his prison-reduction efforts by harvesting some low-hanging fruit – i.e., releasing from prison those inmates who almost certainly are not guilty of the crimes for which they’ve been convicted. The governor, after all, has the power to grant clemency and pardons.
Why not act on the evidence surrounding the so-called California 12?
Those are the 12 California prison inmates whose cases have been investigated by the California Innocence Project, a legal clinic at the California Western School of Law in San Diego. The group has secured the exoneration of 11 California inmates. U-T San Diego in March reported on its client, Uriah Courtney, who served eight years of a life sentence for rape before DNA evidence pointed to the real perpetrator.