SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday wrapped up action on bills for the year by approving a measure aimed a protecting against false confessions by minors in homicide cases and giving some non-violent felons the ability to have their records expunged.
In all, Brown acted by Sunday’s deadline on 896 regular-session bills sent him by the Legislature this year, down from the nearly 1,000 bills that landed on his desk last year. He vetoed 10.7% of the bills, the lowest rejection rate for any of his three years this term.
Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) introduced the measure requiring interrogations of underage suspects in homicide cases to be videotaped.
“One of the worst evils a government can perpetrate is to wrongfully convict an innocent person,” Lieu said. “Unfortunately, false confessions are a significant and sometimes only contributor to many wrongful convictions.”
He cited research by professors at the University of San Francisco School of Law that looked at 125 proven false confessions and found 33% involved confessions from juveniles, most of whom confessed to brutal murders.
Videotaping interrogations allows a better review of the evidence and police conduct, according to supporters of SB 569.
“Californians want a justice system that is fair,” said Ana Zamora, a senior policy advocate for the ACLU of Northern California.
Brown also signed a bill allowing some nonviolent felons who are sentenced to county jail instead of state prison to have their crime expunged from their records by a judge, just as misdemeanor violators can already do. AB 651 is by Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-Gardena).
Brown vetoed SB 448 by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) that would have directed the California Energy Commission to analze data and consult with other state and federal agencies to see whether high gasoline prices are the result of market manipulation by oil companies, refiners and middlemen.
“This bill is unnecessary,” he wrote in his veto message. “The Energy Commission already has the authority to analyze and interpret changes in petroleum supply and market price.”
The governor also signed SB 54 by Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), which requires workers for contractors at refineries to be graduates of a state-approved apprenticeship program. The current contract workers are mainly affiliated with the United Steel Workers and cannot gain access to apprenticeship training run by unions belonging to the California State Building Trades Council.
“Trained, well paid workers are a solid investment for California,” Brown wrote in a signing message.
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