The move will give a temporary reprieve to the 737 death row inmates in the state while annulling California’s lethal injection protocol and closing San Quentin State Prison’s execution chamber, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In a statement announcing the executive order released by Newsom’s office Tuesday, the Democratic governor argued that executing criminals is “inconsistent with our bedrock values,” and he vowed that no prisoner would be put to death while he’s in office.
“Our death penalty system has been — by any measure — a failure. It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation,” Newsom said in prepared remarks he is expected to deliver Wednesday morning.
He said that roughly 60 percent of inmates waiting in the state to be executed are people of color while many criminals executed in the past year suffered from mental impairments, adding that in the past 45 years, 164 death-row inmates have been exonerated, the San Francisco Chroniclereported.
The Democratic governor added in the prepared remarks that the practice provides no public safety nor acts as a deterrent while wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.
The move appears contrary to the wishes of Californian voters who not only rejected to abolish the death penalty twice in 2012 and 2016 but voted for Proposition 66 at the most recent trip to the ballot that would hasten the process from conviction to execution, the New York Times reported.
Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, issued a statement criticizing Newsom’s intention to sign the executive order, saying it is not what Californians want.
“Governor Newsom, who supported the failed initiative to end the death penalty in 2006, is usurping the express will of California voters and substituting his personal preferences via this hasty and ill-considered moratorium on the death penalty,” she said in a statement.
Newsom, who has long been opposed to capital punishment, argued that a country can not claim to be a world leader while sanctioning “the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people.”
“The intentional killing of another person is wrong. And as Governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual,” he said.
The last execution in California was when the state put Clarence Ray Allen, 76, to death on Jan. 17, 2006.
There are currently 24 inmates on death row who have run out of appeals to their sentence.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have already abolished capital punishment.
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