California Gov. Newsom Places Moratorium on Executions

California Gov. Newsom Places Moratorium on Executions

Kerry Wise
March 14, 2019

The governor plans to sign an executive order to block the death penalty in his state.

California has executed 13 people since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. But only California voters can repeal the death penalty, something they rejected narrowly three years ago.

"The fact that so many states have abolished the death penalty-but California hasn't-has given people cover for this narrative that people are still supportive the death penalty". "Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!"

President Donald Trump, who has suggested expanding the death penalty so drug dealers are subject to it, lamented that California's "stone cold killers" will not be executed under Newsom's order.

"[Newsom] recognizes that California voters have spoken on the issue and, if elected governor, he'd respect the will of the electorate by following and implementing the law", said Dan Newman, a spokesman for Newsom when he was lieutenant governor.

Newsom's reason for the executive order? A Pew Research Center poll completed past year found that a small majority of Americans support the death penalty but that those views were split by party.

Across the country, 18 states and Washington DC have abolished the death penalty and others have issued suspensions.

Newsom said he had anticipated that within a month he would have been asked to sign off on a new protocol for administering lethal injections to death row inmates, clearing the way for executions to begin again.

There hasn't been an execution in California since 2006, amid a years-long legal battle over the state's drug cocktail.

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California has not executed a prisoner since 2006 because of a series of legal challenges to its lethal injection method.

In addition, he said, 25 of the state's death row inmates had exhausted all of their appeals, meaning they would be in line for execution.

"The intentional killing of another person is wrong", he said, "and as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual".

A 2011 study found that the death penalty had cost California taxpayers over $4 billion since its reinstatement in 1978. At least 18 of the 25 people who were executed previous year had significant evidence of mental illness, intellectually damaging brain injuries or chronic childhood trauma or abuse, according to a Death Penalty Information Center report released in December.

Governor Newsom further argued that the death penalty was a waste of money, failed to deter offenders, and was fundamentally flawed in that it is "irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error". Its death row has the most inmates of any USA state.

The governor is expected to outline the long history of discrimination within the criminal justice system, making mentally ill, black, brown, and poor convicts more likely to face the death penalty.

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

Most industrialized nations have abolished the death penalty, yet the US executes more people than any other democracy on the planet.