CA Gov. Places Moratorium On Executions, Calls Death Penalty A 'Failure'

Clay Curtis
March 13, 2019

The policy will serve as an instant reprieve for the 737 people on death row in California, which has the largest death row population in the nation.

With Newsom's move, California joins Colorado, Pennsylvania and OR as the fourth state to place a moratorium on the death penalty, though the length and reasoning for the moratoriums vary from state to state.

"The voters of the State of California support the death penalty". His administration argues that capital punishment has been a failure, pointing at pervasive inequality running through the United States criminal justice system, the significant number of innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted, and evidence that the costly system doesn't increase safety.

Newsom's office said 25 condemned inmates have exhausted all of their appeals and could have faced execution if the courts approved the state's new lethal injection method. "It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can not afford expensive legal representation". Twenty-four people now on California's death row were convicted of murder and have exhausted all of their appeals, the Times reported. "It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent".

While Newsom's gesture may impress an increasingly left-wing Democratic Party base, it is sure to be controversial on both sides of the aisle.

It will not end the death penalty in the state, but will suspend it for the duration of Newsom's term. "And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual". The state came up with a new lethal injection protocol in 2018 but has still been hamstrung by court challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union. The executive order, as The Chronicle notes, comes after two attempts to repeal the death penalty at the ballot box, in 2012 and 2016, failed by slim margins. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.

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No death row inmates will be released, an administration source told Reuters.

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

Ellen Kreitzberg, a death penalty expert and opponent at Santa Clara University law school in California, welcomed Newsom's move. In fact, the murder rate in states with the death penalty is consistently higher than in states without it. Capital punishment is considered a legal penalty in the State of California.

Kardashian's support for the death penalty ban has won her praise from her fans - one of whom threw in a dig about her controversial appearance at Chance the Rapper's wedding last weekend.

A US Government Accountability Office study published in 1990 found a vastly increased likelihood of a death sentence when the defendant was a person of color and the victim was white.

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