California Governor to Place Moratorium on Death Penalty

Erika Holt
March 14, 2019

By signing his executive order, Newsom will lower the country's death row population by a quarter. "The intentional killing of another person is wrong".

The reprieves Governor Newsom is now issuing will expire when he leaves office; his current term lasts until January 2023.

How did we get here? "The death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian".

The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star, 38, posted a series of tweets on Tuesday night, praising governor Gavin Newsom's decision to halt the death penalty in California.

Newsom, whose state government is clashing with Trump over environmental regulations, Trump's promised border wall and plans for a bullet train, added he was still committed to working with the Trump White House on disaster preparedness.

Newsom made the unusual decision through an executive order.

ASSOCIATED PRESSCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom.

Why did he do this?

Newsom says the death penalty system has discriminated against mentally ill defendants and people of color. In remarks Wednesday, Newsom plans to note that 25 inmates on California's death row have exhausted their legal appeals and "could soon be eligible for execution". In recent years, other states have abolished the death penalty and several other governors have placed moratoriums on executions.

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An execution chamber in a file photo. "The number of men and women on death row who suffer from severe mental illness or impairment is shocking".

However, that hasn't been much of a problem for California since the state has not executed anyone since 2006 when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor.

A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officer opens the door to San Quentin State Prison's death row on August 15, 2016 in San Quentin, California.

There are now 737 people on death row in California, making it the state with the largest death row population in the US -one in four people sentenced to the death penalty in the country are sentenced in California.

The death penalty spat was the latest between Newsom and Trump, who recently clashed over California wasting federal money on a high-speed rail project.

Seventy-nine condemned California inmates have died of natural causes since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1978. In fact, the murder rate in states with the death penalty is consistently higher than in states without it.

At that time, Newsom said he understood that the issue "raises deeply felt passions on all sides" but he believed that Americans ultimately would look back on the death penalty "as an archaic mistake".

Newsom, a liberal Democrat who was elected in 2018, has always been an opponent of the death penalty, and is thought to be building a national political profile as he eyes a possible future presidential campaign.

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