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

California governor to place moratorium on executions

California governor to place moratorium on executions

On Wednesday morning, Gavin Newsom is expected to sign a new executive order that will put in place an executive moratorium on the death penalty, meaning 737 inmates awaiting execution in California will not be put to death during the governor's tenure.

In addition to the moratorium, Newsom's order will also withdraw California's legal injection protocol and close the execution chamber at San Quentin, where all death row inmates are imprisoned.

"The death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian", Mr Newsom will say, according to prepared remarks from his office.

Newsom said the death penalty isn't a deterrent, wastes taxpayer dollars and is flawed because it is "irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error".

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

"The voters of the State of California support the death penalty", said Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.

His action comes three years after California voters rejected an initiative to end the death penalty, instead passing a measure to speed up executions.

"Our death penalty system has been - by any measure - a failure", Newsom said in a written statement.

California's death row is crowded with inmates, many of whom have been there for decades.

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"The intentional killing of another person is wrong", he said, "and as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual". Jerry Brown, another Democrat, agreed to some limited retesting of evidence in the case a year ago.

The governor's decision brings California in line with Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania - all of which have governor-issued moratoria - and adds momentum to a national movement working to end capital punishment.

Marc Klaas, a prominent victim's rights advocate, said Newsom told him personally Tuesday of his intention to sign the order in Sacramento, and he is not happy.

Newsom told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday that he spoke with Trump "because I wanted to extend to him my appreciation" for visiting California in the wake of the fires, and to "express the fact that the people in those communities were grateful to him".

Newsom's aides said it has not yet been decided what will become of the execution chamber, nor whether corrections officials have been told to top preparing for executions, for instance by running drills.

Brown said he was satisfied with his record number of pardons and commutations, though he never attempted to commute a death sentence, and with his sweeping changes that eased criminal penalties while reducing the prison population.

The executive order will also argue that capital punishment is inherently unfair - applied more often to people of color and those with mental disability, according to an administration source.

Seventy-nine condemned California inmates have died of natural causes since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978. California has executed 13 inmates, while two were executed in other states.

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