On April 27, California Western School of Law Professor Justin P. Brooks and three staff attorneys from the California Innocence Project will kick off the Innocence March at the San Diego Courthouse.
The California Innocence Project director and attorneys Alex Simpson, Alissa Bjerkhoel, and Michael Semanchik will walk 600 miles from San Diego to Sacramento to protest the incarceration of their innocent clients, bring attention to the cause of wrongful convictions, and present clemency petitions for 12 clients, “The California 12,” to Governor Jerry Brown on June 20.
Brooks and the California Innocence Project made international news last May with the exoneration of football player Brian Banks. Banks, other exonerees, family members and supporters of the project’s clients, California Western students and staff, and activists are expected to join the march for portions of the 55-day walk across the state.
“There is no rational reason to keep innocent people in prison,” said Brooks. “In each one of these 12 cases there is compelling evidence of innocence. The governor has the power to release them and we will ask him to use that power.”
About “The California 12”
At a cost to the state of around $8.5 million, “The California 12” have been wrongfully incarcerated for a combined 190 years. One of the 12, Daniel Larsen, had his conviction reversed by a federal court in 2010 based on evidence of actual innocence yet still remains in prison. The prosecutor is appealing the reversal based on a legal technicality. Similarly, William Richards still remains in prison despite having his conviction reversed in 2009 after the California Innocence Project presented DNA evidence of his innocence, also due to an appeal by the prosecutor. Through the Innocence March, organizers hope to raise awareness about wrongful convictions and the incarceration of innocent people, and to secure clemency for the “California 12.”
The March Route on the Central Coast
May 22 – Orcutt to Bromela – 16.17 mi
May 23 – Bromela to Pismo Beach – 12.58 mi
May 24 – Pismo Beach to San Luis Obispo – 11.10 mi
May 25 – Rally Day in San Luis Obispo
May 26 – San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay – 14.67 mi
May 27 – Morro Bay to Cambria – 20 mi
May 28 – Cambria to San Simeon – 12 mi
May 29 – San Simeon to Ragged Point – 15 mi
About the California Innocence Project
Founded in 1999, the California Innocence Project is a California Western School of Law clinical program dedicated to the release of wrongfully convicted inmates and providing an outstanding educational experience for students enrolled in the clinic. The California Innocence Project reviews approximately 2,000 claims from inmates each year and has earned the exoneration of nine wrongfully convicted clients since its inception.
For information about the march, how you can participate, and sign the petition, visit www.innocenceproject.org