Gov. Gavin Newsom Halts Executions In California, Calls Death Penalty 'A Failure'

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Enlarge Image California Gov. Gavin Newsom AP

"And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual", he will say. After that, a future governor could decide to resume executions.

How did we get here?

"I have met with and am very supportive of Governor Newsom and his decision to help bring an end to the California Death Penalty".

"Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers".

However, in 2012 and again in 2016, Californian voters rejected ballot measures aimed at abolishing the death penalty.

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

But Alison Parker, U.S. managing director at Human Rights Watch, praised Newsom's "great courage and leadership in ending the cruel, costly, and unfair practice of executing prisoners", calling for other states to follow California's lead.

Why did he do this?

Newsom, who has been a vocal opponent of the death penalty, said that the system is a "failure" that "has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford legal representation".

Newsom, who has always been opposed to capital punishment, argued that a country cannot claim to be a world leader while sanctioning "the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people".

Newsom's reason for the executive order?

Execution chamber at the San Quentin prison. California hasn't executed anyone since 2006, under then-Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and inmates are far more likely to die of old age.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have already abolished capital punishment.

Newsom's action on the death penalty will no doubt place him in the national spotlight.

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.

Still, Newsom argued opposing the death penalty is an ethical question. The Democrat's order will immediately close the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison and withdraw California's lethal injection protocol. Those on death row will remain in prison under the order. Shortly thereafter voters amended the State Constitution to make the death penalty legal. Aides to Harris, now a Democratic US senator and 2020 presidential candidate, have said she felt that she had a duty to uphold the death penalty as attorney general, even though she personally opposed it.

Earlier this week, Jaime Osuna, a convicted murderer who was spared the death penalty for the gruesome torture and murder in 2011 of Yvette Pena, a mother of six - and who mocked her family in court - was suspected of murdering his cellmate, who was found dead over the weekend.

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