California Gov. Gavin Newsom to Suspend Death Penalty, Defy Voters, Victims

The lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin Calif

Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., signed an executive order Wednesday placing an indefinite moratorium on capital punishment, saying it goes against Californians' "values".

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

Newsom, in his prepared remarks, called the death penalty "inconsistent with our bedrock values" and noted that 164 inmates-including five in California-have been released from death row over the past 45 years after being exonerated of their convictions.

President Donald Trump says Newsom is "defying voters". "Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!"

Newsom's decision will be officially announced on Wednesday, according to the NYT.

California Governor Gavin Newsom gestures to the crowd after taking the oath of office on January 7.

"I feel very uncomfortable as an administration, pursuing the death penalty", Newsom told reporters Wednesday.

If a single individual who temporarily holds the reins of power, even in the highly controversial and oft debated issue of the death penalty, can override that basic concept of government by the people then a severe crack appears in the foundation of the democracy. Since 1976, inmates of color have accounted for 43 percent of executions, and 55 percent of people on death row are racial minorities.

California is the sixth state where a governor has enacted a moratorium.

In 2016, California voters approved a proposition to speed up the death penalty.

"I met someone yesterday who said this is about eradicating evil, and you have a responsibility to eradicate evil by executing those on death row", he said.

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In 2016, California voters passed a ballot measure to expedite executions and defeated a measure to end the death penalty.

Scheidegger also said California law requires prison officials to maintain the ability to carry out executions.

Newsom himself acknowledged before being elected governor that the voters have made a decision on the issue, and he said he would respect that.

His move will also withdraw California's lethal injection protocol and close down the state's execution chamber at San Quentin prison.

There hasn't been an execution in California since 2006, amid a years-long legal battle over the state's drug cocktail.

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.

Kim Kardashian West is once again using her platform to advocate for political change.

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

Responding to victims and rights groups who've spoken out against the move, Newsom said he hopes more can be done to support them without handing down death sentences.

Newsom's office said he can act unilaterally because he's enacting a moratorium, not changing anyone's sentence.

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