Wright introduces bill to downgrade nonviolent felony convictions

SACRAMENTO —Two days after a jury found him guilty on eight felony counts of voter fraud and perjury, state Sen. Roderick Wright introduced a bill that would allow some nonviolent felony convictions to be converted to misdemeanors.

The Democrat, who represents an Inglewood-area district, was convicted Tuesday of lying about where he lived when he ran for his Senate seat and voted in several elections.

On Thursday, he introduced the bill. On Friday, a spokesman for Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the legislation would not be put to a vote.

“Regardless of any merits of the bill, wrong author, wrong time,” said Rhys Williams, a spokesman for Steinberg.


Wright was stripped of a committee chairmanship but remains a member in good standing. His bill would have applied to felons who were not sent to state prison, whose crimes were not “serious or violent,” who were not required to register as sex offenders and who presented “clear and convincing evidence” of rehabilitation.

Those facing a criminal charge at the time of the conversion request would have been ineligible, as would those convicted of an offense in the preceding five years — a provision that could have applied to Wright.

A spokeswoman for Wright said the bill, SB 929, was not intended to benefit him.

“Sen. Wright has worked for many years on issues of fairness in sentencing and ‘second-chance legislation’ with various community groups … and was only continuing those ongoing efforts,” said the spokeswoman, Jennifer Hanson.


“However,” she added, Wright “recognizes that public perception under present circumstances casts a different light on his involvement with this issue, and he will not be moving the bill.”

Wright reported to the state in a required filing Friday that he raised $89,200 last year for his legal defense fund, bringing the total to $248,000 since 2011. Donations have come from Steinberg, Sempra Energy, PG&E and California Grand Casino.

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