California Gov. to Go Against Voters, Institute Death Penalty Moratorium

Gavin Newsom Plans To Sign An Executive Order On An Issue CA Voters Turned Down Twice Before
Source AP
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14 March, 2019

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

The state has 737 people on death row.

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.

US President Donald Trump denounced the decision and said it didn't have the support of voters.

The president has always been irked by the Democratic leadership in California, including the newly elected governor Gavin Newsom. The state's new governor supports a repeal bill in the Legislature.

"A study was done a number of years ago in Georgia, which showed that there was a very strong correlation between the race of the victim and discrimination, so that if you were black and your victim was white, you had up to 11 times greater chance of receiving death penalty than the other way around", said Finkelstein.

Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. Newsom said that none of the inmates now on death row with have their sentences commuted, but will possibly be transferred back into the state's general prison population.

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"I do not believe that a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people", Newsom said, according to the San Fransisco Chronicle.

His administration's regulations are stalled by challenges in both state and federal court, but those lawsuits may be halted now that Newsom is officially withdrawing the regulations. In fact, the murder rate in states with the death penalty is consistently higher than in states without it.

The last time an inmate was executed in California was in 2006 under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"The intentional killing of another person is wrong, and as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual", he plans to say. It comes as some 20 men now on the state's death row have finally exhausted their opportunities for appeal, which is what prompted Newsom to act. Though voters in 2016 narrowly approved a ballot measure to speed up the punishment, no condemned inmate faced imminent execution.

Kent Scheidegger, the legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said Newsom's order is an abuse of power.

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.

Trump is more likely signaling his defense of the death penalty to the country broadly than trying specifically to undercut Newsom. Its death row has the most inmates of any USA state. Twenty-six inmates condemned to death have committed suicide since the death penalty was reintroduced in 1978.


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