The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that legislation approved Thursday by the California Senate would limit prosecutors’ ability to rely on testimony from prison inmates to obtain convictions.
Essentially, the Mercury News reports, the legislation would require prosecutors to corroborate testimony from inmates with an independent source who is not incarcerated. That’s motivated by the worry that inmates could be tempted to lie and help prosecutors in order to get themselves more lenient sentences.
In an e-mail, a spokesman for the San Diego District Attorney’s Office said the local DA “disapproves in principle” of the legislation. Here’s what the spokesman, Steve Walker, wrote:
The California District Attorney’s Association (CDAA) has taken a “disapprove in principle” stance on SB609, a position that the San Diego District Attorney’s Office agrees with.
Here’s an extract from the story:
Making it more difficult to convict using such testimony was recommended by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, which has reviewed the causes of wrongful convictions.
“At the end of the day, guilty convictions should be able to stand of their own merits,” said Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, the author of the bill. “This should cut down the opportunity to misuse the system and provide a fair means by which any of us are convicted.”
The bill passed 25-10.