California governor will halt all executions in state

13 March, 2019, 15:42 | Author: Carlos George
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom

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.

California Governor Gavin Newsom will announce a moratorium on executions and a temporary reprieve for all 737 inmates on death row in the U.S. state.

Still, Newsom argued opposing the death penalty is an ethical question.

Another key point of Newsom's argument is the wrongful conviction and subsequent overturning of inmates on death row.

The last execution in California was when the state put Clarence Ray Allen, 76, to death on January 17, 2006. Since then, the state's death row population has grown to house a quarter of all condemned inmates in the United States, AP reported.

Ellen Kreitzberg, a death penalty expert and opponent at Santa Clara University law school in California, welcomed Newsom's move.

There are now 24 inmates on death row who have run out of appeals to their sentence.

Newsom "is usurping the express will of California voters and substituting his personal preferences via this hasty and ill-considered moratorium on the death penalty", said Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy (Los Angeles County) District Attorneys.

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But Newsom said that the death penalty is flawed because it is "irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error", and expensive, costing California $5 billion since 1978.

In some other states that have abolished the death penalty, the move away from capital punishment began with a governor who refused to sign death warrants, she said. Butin order to have lasting impact, the reprieve should be used to find a more permanent solution, Durham says.

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. His administration's regulations are stalled by challenges in both state and federal court, though those lawsuits may be halted now that Newsom is officially withdrawing the regulations.

His office insisted he has the authority to impose the moratorium because he is not changing or commuting death sentences. "When he told me that, a little piece of me died", he said.

Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine of Greenbrae plans to seek the two-thirds vote the Legislature requires to put another repeal measure on the 2020 ballot. Capital punishment is considered a legal penalty in the State of California.

Newsom's aides said it has not yet been decided what will become of the execution chamber, or whether corrections officials have been told to top preparing for executions, for instance by running drills.

The lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison, photographed in 2010.

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