Gov. Gavin Newsom Suspends Death Penalty In California

Erika Holt
March 14, 2019

USA media report he plans to sign an executive order later on Wednesday, describing the death penalty as "inconsistent with our bedrock values".

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California has poured cold water on Donald Trump's claim that he called the president "one of the smartest people I've ever met" in a private telephone call.

Newsom, in his prepared remarks, called the death penalty "inconsistent with our bedrock values" andnotedthat 164 inmates - including five in California - have been released from death row over the past 45 years after being exonerated of their convictions.

According to the state's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation death row list (pdf), 737 inmates were slated to be executed prior to the executive order. Because the state hasn't executed anyone since 2006 due to legal challenges, Newsom's order is largely viewed as symbolic.

Trump's referral to defying voters was about two different attempts in the past six years to repeal the death penalty in California at the ballot box, both of which failed.

The state joins Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, which have similar bans, and 20 states that have abolished the death penalty, it said. "And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual", Newsom is expected to say.

Newsom, who has always been opposed to capital punishment, argued that a country cannot claim to be a world leader while sanctioning "the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people".

Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, president of the California District Attorneys Association, also criticized Newsom for circumventing the will of a majority of voters.

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The death penalty is not a new entrant to the political culture wars, but in recent years, the partisan split on the issue has widened.

California has the most death row inmates in the USA, according to Politico.

"We can not advance the death penalty in an effort to soften the blow of what happens to these victims", Newsom said.

Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday announced an indefinite moratorium on the state's death penalty, suspending a practice he believes discriminates against marginalized communities while failing to make the state any safer.

Newsom is a Democrat who took office in January and a long-standing opponent of the death penalty, which was last carried out in California in 2006. Human Rights Watch believes these rights can not be reconciled with the death penalty, a form of punishment unique in its cruelty and finality. He also said innocent people have been wrongly convicted and sometimes put to death. But executions for more than 20 inmates who have exhausted their appeals could have resumed if those challenges were cleared up, and Newsom has said he anxious that it could happen soon.

"A moratorium in California has enormous symbolic value", Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told theTimes.

Brown had focused on sweeping changes to criminal penalties and reducing the prison population.

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