California governor to impose moratorium on executions

Leroy Wright
March 13, 2019

Newsom is a Democrat who took office in January and is a long-standing opponent of the death penalty, which was last carried out in California in 2006.

"The death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian", Mr Newsom will say, according to prepared remarks from his office.

In addition to the moratorium, Newsom's order will also withdraw California's legal injection protocol and close the execution chamber at San Quentin, where all death row inmates are imprisoned.

California Governor Gavin Newsom will announce a moratorium on executions and a temporary reprieve for all 737 inmates on death row in the U.S. state.

"The voters of the State of California support the death penalty", said Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.

In the USA, the death penalty is inevitably plagued with arbitrariness, racial disparities, and error; 164 people, including four from California, have been released from death row since 1973 after being later found innocent. Since 1973, five California inmates who were sentenced to death were later exonerated, his office said.

But only California voters can repeal the death penalty, something they rejected narrowly three years ago.

In a no-holds-barred interview, Governor Gavin Newsom criticized President Donald Trump on a variety of hot-button issues, including the border wall. California's last execution was in 2006, under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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The third main angle of Newsom's argument is that the death penalty is "costly and burdensome", costing the state $5 billion since 1978. He also said innocent people have been wrongly convicted and sometimes put to death.

Former Democratic Gov. Brown also opposed the death penalty, but his administration moved to restart executions after voters acted in 2016 to allow the use of a single lethal injection and speed up appeals.

Newsom defended a $25 million proposed California program to assist asylum seekers who cross the border into the state because he affirms the federal government isn't doing its job. "And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual".

Newsom says the death penalty system has discriminated against mentally ill defendants and people of color. "That doesn't make it the right thing to do", Scheidegger said. Jerry Brown, another Democrat, agreed to some limited retesting of evidence in the case previous year.

More than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978 but only 13 have been executed.

The governor's decision brings California in line with Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania - all of which have governor-issued moratoria - and adds momentum to a national movement working to end capital punishment. But prisoners convicted of murder continue to be sentenced to death in local courtrooms.

"There is a lot of literature and studies out there that show that the death penalty is a deeply broken system for a lot of different reasons", the American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Shilpi Agarwal said.

But as the state's demographics have changed, so too have California's politics.

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