Published: Wed, March 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

California governor to place moratorium on death penalty

California governor to place moratorium on death penalty

In a no-holds-barred interview, Governor Gavin Newsom criticized President Donald Trump on a variety of hot-button issues, including the border wall.

Despite recent polling indicating that support for the death penalty is at its lowest level since the early 1970s, Newsom's order still bucks the will of most California residents.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the executive order placing a moratorium on the death penalty at his Capitol office Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that voters don't support Newsom's decision on behalf of the "737 stone cold killers". Trump has cultivated an image of himself as a tough-on-crime president and has said drug dealers should face the ultimate penalty.

"It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford expensive legal representation", Newsom said in prepared remarks he is expected to deliver Wednesday morning. "It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent".

"You can't make this up, Anderson", the governor said.

A court-ordered moratorium on executions has been in place since February 2006, when a federal judge declared that California's lethal injection protocol was unconstitutional.

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A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officer opens the door to San Quentin State Prison's death row on August 15, 2016 in San Quentin, California.

Age and natural causes seem to have been a more effective death penalty in California: 79 death row habitants have died of natural causes since 1978, another 26 killed themselves.

Since 1973, five California inmates who were sentenced to death were later exonerated, his office said.

The death penalty is an archaic and unjust system, disproportionately condemning people of color and those with disabilities. Capital punishment is considered a legal penalty in the State of California. No inmates will be released as a result of the directive nor will any current sentences be altered.

Just last month, Newsom issued an executive order that allowed for new DNA testing of evidence in the high-profile case of death row inmate Kevin Cooper, who was sentenced in 1985 for the murders of four people and has exhausted his appeals.

The 737 people on death row in California are the most of any state in America, the governor's office said. He has not committed one way or the other about whether he will push another death penalty repeal initiative in 2020.

Trump is more likely signaling his defense of the death penalty to the country broadly than trying specifically to undercut Newsom. "It is rife with errors and racial bias", Hannah Cox, National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, said in a statement.

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