Capitol Weekly’s Top 100: Michael Romano

90. Michael Romano

Michael Romano is the founder and director of the Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School, which seeks to amend or reverse the most unjust criminal sentences under the law. Since 2006, the effort has overturned 18 life sentences. In 2019, Gov. Newsom appointed Romano as chair of California’s new criminal law and policy reform committee, the California Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code. The Committee was formed to study the state’s Penal Code and recommend statutory reforms and improvements – notably alternatives to incarceration that encourage rehabilitation of offenders. Romano and co. dug into the task with zeal; Less than two years later, CalMatters reporter Byrhonda Lyons noted that the committee had already pushed through more than half of its recommendations. “Six of the committee’s proposals resulted in passed legislation sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed all the bills.” By any measure, Romano has had a significant impact on California, credited with helping reduce sentences for over 22,000 people.

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