Governor Newsom to Halt Death Penalty; President Trump Is Not Thrilled

Governor Newsom to Halt Death Penalty; President Trump Is Not Thrilled

California has the largest number of prisoners on death row in the entirety of the United States, but Governor Gavin Newsom is to sign an executive order temporarily banning the death penalty from use in the state, providing a stay of execution for some 737 inmates.

In the U.S., the death penalty is inevitably plagued with arbitrariness, racial disparities, and error; 164 people, including four from California, have been released from death row since 1973 after being later found innocent.

President Donald Trump says Newsom is "defying voters".

Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, president of the California District Attorneys Association, also criticized Newsom for circumventing the will of a majority of voters.

While campaigning for the death penalty repeal measure in 2016, Newsom told The Modesto Bee editorial board he would "be accountable to the will of the voters" on the death penalty if he became governor.

The moratorium on the death penalty will last as long as Newsom holds office. The state's lethal injection protocol was getting closer to being finalized and two dozen death row inmates had exhausted their appeals.

Other governors also have enacted moratoriums.

"I believe that the death penalty is wrong and I'm exercising my right pursuant to the will of voters and the constitution", he said.

As recently as 2016, a measure to abolish the death penalty failed, and another, aimed at speeding up executions, passed.

With 737 inmates on death row, that equates to a possible 30 who are innocent, he said.

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Gavin Newsom plans to sign an executive order placing a moratorium on the practice is also withdrawing the lethal injection regulations that death penalty opponents already have tied up in courts.

A $853,000 upgrade of the execution chamber at San Quentin was completed in 2010, but it has never been used.

Since becoming governor, Newsom has been meeting with the families of victims, as well as law enforcement officials, while consulting with his legal team about what action to take.

"California is a really odd outlier on the death penalty".

Stephen Lam / ReutersAn inmate stands against a fence at the Adjustment Center yard during a media tour of California's death row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California 29 December, 2015.

"Racial bias and unfairness run deep throughout the justice system but especially when it comes to the death penalty", she wrote. California hasn't executed anyone since 2006.

California has executed 13 people since the death penalty was reenacted in 1976, though they have more than double the amount of prisoners on death row than any other state. By signing his executive order, Newsom will lower the country's death row population by a quarter. More than three-quarters of Republicans support executions while only about a third of Democrats agree.

Kim Kardashian is speaking out to voice her support for ending the death penalty.

"When he told me that, a little piece of me died", he said.

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