Since California's last execution, its death row population has grown to house one of every four condemned inmates in the US. "It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can not afford expensive legal representation".
Ultimately, Newsom decided the moratorium was in the best interest of the state, because he believes the death penalty "is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian".
The move has been... Since 1973, 164 condemned prisoners nationwide, including five in California, have been freed from death row after they were found to have been wrongfully convicted. "The systemic racism, the implicit bias, the overt bias, the whims of prosecutors based on geography, based on the will of people in the moment, fear and anxiety.... until we address that I don't think we can do what Saudi Arabia is doing and what North Korea is doing". But executions will be halted as long as Newsom remains governor.
I'm deeply grateful that California Governor @GavinNewsom is halting executions.
Now they have their sights set on the next goal, said longtime anti-death penalty advocate Natasha Minsker: "The next step would be to go further and convert death sentences to life without parole".
Critics said that Newsom had swept aside voter support for the death penalty.
The governor's action has to be viewed in the larger context not of his personal opposition to the death penalty but as his duty as an elected official to uphold the law.
Newsom also is withdrawing the state's lethal injection regulations and shuttering the new execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison that has never been used.
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Newsom has long opposed the death penalty, but has been wrestling with what action to take as governor. He is also not changing any prisoner's conviction, nor is he offering an opportunity for early release to any of the condemned. "Voters narrowly approved Proposition 66, a measure on the same ballot to streamline death penalty appeals", the Times reported.
Newsom followed the lead of the governors of Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, who also recently announced moratoriums on capital punishment, as well as Washington State's Supreme Court, which banned the practice past year.
Newsom was convinced by statistics suggesting that perhaps dozens of the 737 inmates on the state's death row were innocent. That same year, they voted by a wider margin against a ballot measure to abolish the death penalty in the state altogether.
"The law is the law and this is crystal clear: The constitution of the state of California provides the governor the ability to reprieve, the ability do this moratorium", Newsom said Wednesday at the Capitol. "But we can not advance the death penalty in effort to try to soften the blow of what happened".
This moratorium will be in place for the duration of Newsom's time in office, the governor's office said.
Across the country, 18 states and Washington DC have abolished the death penalty and others have issued suspensions.
Patrick Croy spent seven years on death row until he was acquitted in 1990 for the murder of a Yreka police officer in 1978.
But supporters of capital punishment - much like opponents of same-sex marriage a decade and a half ago - are saying that Newsom has overstepped and that he's working against the will of the people.