California governor announces moratorium on death penalty


California governor announces moratorium on death penalty

Alan Gilman

16 March 2019

Newly elected California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed an executive order imposing a moratorium on the state’s death penalty. While not abolishing the death penalty, the legal effect of Newsom’s order means that none of the 737 condemned inmates on California’s death row can be executed while he serves as governor.

Nationally 2,738 prisoners are on death row, with California accounting for more than 25 percent of the total.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978, the state has carried out 13 executions, the last being in 2006. During this 40-year period, 80 of California’s death row inmates have died by natural causes, and 26—twice the number executed—have died by suicide.

“Our death penalty system has been—by any measure—a failure,” Newsom, a Democrat, said in a written statement. “It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. But most of all, the death penalty is absolute, irreversible and irreparable in the event of a human error.

“We are considering executing more people than any other state in modern history—to line up human beings, every day, for executions for two-plus years. Premeditated, state-sponsored executions … I cannot sign off on executing hundreds and hundreds of human beings, knowing among them are people who are innocent.”

Newsom made reference to the 164 people nationwide who have been freed from death row after they were found to have been wrongfully convicted, including five from California.

A court-ordered moratorium on executions has been in place in California since February 2006, when a federal judge declared that its lethal…

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