California Western School of Law professor Justin Brooks and three staff attorneys from the California Innocence Project will walk 600 miles to the state capitol in Sacramento to bring attention to the cause of wrongful convictions.
Their Innocence March will begin April 27 at the San Diego Courthouse.
Brooks, the director of the California Innocence Project, will be joined by attorneys Alex Simpson, Alissa Bjerkhoel and Michael Semanchik.
They will be walking to protest the incarceration of their clients and present clemency petitions for 12 clients, "The California 12," to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The California Innocence Project made international news last May with the exoneration of football player Brian Banks, who is expected to join the march for portions of the 55-day walk across California.
Other exonerees, family members and supporters of the project’s clients, California Western students and staff, and activists are expected to join the march as well.
“There is no rational reason to keep innocent people in prison,” Brooks said. “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.”
At a cost to the state of around $8.5 million, “The California 12” have been incarcerated for a combined 190 years, according to the California Innocence Project.
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, also due to an appeal by the prosecutor, despite having his conviction reversed in 2009 after the California Innocence Project presented DNA evidence of his innocence.
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.”