California governor to block more than 700 executions with executive order

Minnie Murray
March 14, 2019

While President Donald Trump criticized California Governor Gavin Newsom's plans to halt the death penalty in the state, some conservatives cheered the decision, saying it aligned with their belief in "limited government, fiscal responsibility, and the value of life". The people have clearly spoken and it is the responsibility of the chief executive of the state to execute the laws.

There are 737 prisoners in California whose executions are now paused after the governor issued a moratorium on the state's death penalty policy, but that doesn't mean anything will change for good - in the state or the country. "Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I", Trump said on Twitter.

Newsom, a Democrat, 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".

But the death penalty so far has been politically untouchable-repeatedly favored by voters despite their progressive tendencies on other issues.

There are now 20 states and the District of Columbia that do not have the death penalty in their penal codes.

"He's following in the footsteps of other governors who abused this power because they were frustrated by a law that they just personally disagreed with", Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, told the Los Angeles Times.

"I told him these are people who kill babies and women and cops", Klaas said.

Voters have narrowly supported the death penalty, most recently in 2016 when they voted to speed up the process.

With 737 inmates on death row, that equates to a possible 30 who are innocent, he said.

Newsom's executive order, in addition to the moratorium, would "withdraw the state's lethal injection protocol, and shut down the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison", according to Buzzfeed.

A $853,000 upgrade of the execution chamber at San Quentin was completed in 2010, but it has never been used.

The move is widely seen by both supporters and proponents as of major importance in a national campaign to abolish the death penalty, the New York Times reported. But most of all, the death penalty is absolute.

Newsom said he had anticipated that within a month he would have been asked to sign off on a new protocol for administering lethal injections to death row inmates, clearing the way for executions to begin again. "The fact that so many states have abolished the death penalty-but California hasn't-has given people cover for this narrative that people are still supportive the death penalty".

Today, it's hard to find a mainstream Democrat in California who supports the death penalty.

Governor Newsom's office also stated that 25 inmates now on death row could have possibly faced execution if the new lethal injection method had managed to pass the courts.

California has not executed anyone since 2006, when Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor.

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