Death Row Inmates to Receive Instant Reprieve Under Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order

Saul Bowman
March 14, 2019

At the same time, a poll from PPIC found that most Californians preferred life imprisonment to the use of the death penalty.

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.

Gavin Newsom is expected to sign an executive order on the death penalty on Wednesday morning.

"Racial bias and unfairness run deep throughout the justice system but especially when it comes to the death penalty".

"The intentional killing of another person is wrong", Newsom said.

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. After Newsom's term is up, the future governor could choose to resume overseeing executions or continue the ban.

Trump's referral to defying voters was about two different attempts in the past six years to repeal the death penalty in California at the ballot box, both of which failed.

"California voters rejected the measure by a margin of 53% to 47%".


"Symbolically it is very significant", Robert Dunham, the executive director of the not-for-profit Death Penalty Information Center, told the Guardian.

This could create a challenge for Newsom, since his executive order would be denying the will of the California people. Federal courts ordered a halt to executions until the California department of corrections and rehabilitation (CDCR) could ensure its lethal injection protocol was administered without risk of exposing inmates to excessive pain.

Newsom's office said 25 condemned inmates have exhausted all of their appeals and could soon have faced execution if the courts approved the state's new lethal injection method.

Newsom has always been a vocal opponent of the death penalty, stating the practice discriminates against people of color, mentally ill people and poor people, and that it has put to death those wrongfully convicted of crimes.

Newsom may feel strongly on this issue, but his decision certainly will appear to as a slap in the face to the victims and their families.

Death penalty opponents hope California's suspension of executions will inspire other states to follow suit.

In 2014, support for the death penalty among Democrats dropped under 50 percent in Pew's polling, the first year in which that happened.

"The death penalty is immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and proven to be unequally applied", she added. In recent years, other states have abolished the death penalty and several other governors have placed moratoriums on executions. "The disparities are really real and raw to me now, as I spend every week working on the issues of paroles and commutations and, substantively I see those disparities".

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