California Gov. Gavin Newsom Announces Death Penalty Moratorium

14 March, 2019, 07:17 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • The lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin Calif

In the United States, 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.

California voters have repeatedly rejected abolishing capital punishment but there is a court imposed moratorium on the death penalty. Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.

Marc Klaas, a prominent victim's rights advocate, said Newsom told him personally Tuesday of his intention to sign the order in Sacramento, and he is not happy.

Newsom, who became governor in January of this year, said the death penalty "has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford expensive legal representation".

But the death penalty so far has been politically untouchable-repeatedly favored by voters despite their progressive tendencies on other issues.

A total of 24 inmates on California's death row have already exhausted their appeals. Capital punishment is considered a legal penalty in the State of California. "And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual", Newsome will say, according to prepared remarks published by Buzzfeed. Voter efforts failed in 2012 and 2016, and voters approved a measure past year to speed up the time from conviction to execution.

California's death row is crowded with inmates, many of whom have been there for decades. Levine's district includes San Quentin State Prison.

Newsom himself acknowledged before being elected governor that the voters have made a decision on the issue, and he said he would respect that. But most of all, the death penalty is absolute. "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".

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Stephen Lam / ReutersAn inmate stands against a fence at the Adjustment Center yard during a media tour of California's death row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California 29 December, 2015.

California's executions were halted in 2006 when a condemned inmate challenged the state's protocol for lethal injection, ensnaring California in legal challenges that continue today.

Newsom said his views on the death penalty were first shaped 40 years ago when he learned of his grandfather's and father's advocacy for a wrongfully convicted man.

The move will give a temporary reprieve to the 737 death row inmates in the state while annulling California's lethal injection protocol and closing San Quentin State Prison's execution chamber, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In 1998, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gray Davis also ran as a supporter of capital punishment, easily crushing Republican Attorney General Dan Lungren in the general election.

Responding to victims and rights groups who've spoken out against the move, Newsom said he hopes more can be done to support them without handing down death sentences.

"I couldn't sleep at night", he said at the state capitol.

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