California governor to halt executions

California governor to halt executions

California governor to halt executions

California governor Gavin Newsom will sign an executive order placing a moratorium on the state's use of the death penalty on Wednesday morning, according to the governor's office.

"The intentional killing of another person is wrong", he said, "and as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual".

Newsom called the death penalty "a failure" that "has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford expensive legal representation".

Since 1973, a total of 164 prisoners nationally - including five from California - have been freed after they were wrongfully convicted, according to "The Innocence List" maintained by The Death Penalty Information Center.

California hasn't executed anyone since 2006, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor.

California's governor is set to issue a moratorium on capital punishment in the US's most populous state, providing a reprieve for hundreds of inmates sentenced to death.

Newsom's planned order drew criticism from some law enforcement groups, including the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, a prosecutors' association.


Governor Newsom took office in January and a death penalty moratorium was one of his campaign pledges.

Public opinion in California on capital punishment has shifted dramatically in the past few decades, with increasing numbers of people preferring the option of life without the possibility of parole to the death penalty in most cases.

At that time, Newsom said he understood that the issue "raises deeply felt passions on all sides" but he believed that Americans ultimately would look back on the death penalty "as an archaic mistake". The California Constitution gives the governor power to grant reprieves to inmates, providing he reports his reasoning to the Legislature. It will not affect inmates' convictions or their imprisonment, other than eliminating their death sentences, the source said.

More than six in 10 condemned California inmates are minorities, which his office cited as proof of racial disparities in who is sentenced to die. 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. "I've carved out my piece of all this". A repeal would require a popular vote in favour of the change.

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.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have already abolished capital punishment. The order will also immediate close San Quentin State Prison's execution chamber and put an end to the state's continued efforts to find a constitutional method for lethal injection, The Los Angeles Times reported.

More than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978 but only 13 have been executed.

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