California governor to halt executions, temporary reprieve for inmates

14 March, 2019, 07:15 | Author: Donnie King
  • Gavin Newsom Plans To Sign An Executive Order On An Issue CA Voters Turned Down Twice Before

Newsom said the death penalty has been meted out unevenly, often discriminating against the poor and people of color.

Newsom's reason for the executive order?

Newsom has always been a vocal critic of capital punishment.

Despite this, no prisoners have been executed in California since Arnold Schwarzenegger's time in government, but Newsom said that he believes "the intentional killing of another person is wrong", adding: "As governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual". In recent years, other states have abolished the death penalty and several other governors have placed moratoriums on executions.

Governor Newsom took office in January and a death penalty moratorium was one of his campaign pledges. "It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can not afford expensive legal representation". "It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent".

In referring to the president's attempts to spend billions of dollars on building the border wall, Newsom said it's a distraction to steer away from more substantive solutions to the immigration problem.

California has the biggest death row population in the country, with one in four USA inmates on death row incarcerated in the state.

In signing an executive order that grants reprieve to death row inmates and closes the state's execution chamber, Newsom waded into treacherous political territory.

Newsom's order drew criticism from some law enforcement groups, including the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, a prosecutors' association. "At this time I don't see a legal challenge to the reprieve". The California State Supreme Court initially outlawed the deal penalty in People v. Anderson in 1972. In fact, the murder rate in states with the death penalty is consistently higher than in states without it.

GOP Assemblyman Tom Lackey said Republicans were looking for a way to reverse Newsom's action but hadn't yet figured out how.

On the campaign trail just a year ago, Newsom said he would respect the voters' will with regard to the death penalty. However, he said prohibiting corrections officials from preparing to carry out executions "is patently illegal" under the 2016 ballot measure.

"The moral leadership the governor is showing puts us in line with other countries and other states in terms of abolishing the death penalty", she said.

Another 79 have died of natural causes, and a further 26 committed suicide, figures from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation show. Three were in Virginia, the only state that didn't support Trump in 2016 where executions have occurred since then. "It is rife with errors and racial bias", Hannah Cox, the National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, said in a statement.

Since 1973, a total of 164 prisoners nationally - including five from California - have been freed after they were wrongfully convicted, according to "The Innocence List" maintained by The Death Penalty Information Center.


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