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Documentary tells the story of Simitian bill for the wrongly convicted

Monday, July 27, 2009

When most people think of movie stars in Sacramento, it’s Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who comes to mind. But Tuesday will see the Sacramento premier of a documentary featuring Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and his effort to pass a bill on behalf of the wrongly convicted.

“$100 a Day” was made by Gwen Essegian, who worked as a district staffer for Simitian for a year in 2004 and 2005. It tells the story of Rick Walker, an East Palo Alto man who spent 12 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

The 35-minute film is also a procedural drama about the bill Walker inspired. State law has long called for the wrongly convicted to be compensated $100 for each day they spent in prison. But this money is approved in special bills only about twice a year. Simitian felt that Walker’s case was so egregious, and his situation on release so dire, that he deserved to be paid right away rather than waiting several months.


The film features other faces familiar to those around the Capitol: then-Speaker Herb Wesson; Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who became a leading supporter of the bill; and longtime Sacramento Bee reporter, Jim Sanders, who wrote several stories on Walker’s case.

Full story on the Capitol Weekly website