California Gov. Gavin Newsom To Halt Executions

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

The 737 inmates on California’s largest-in-the-nation death row are getting a reprieve from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who plans to sign an executive order Wednesday placing a moratorium on executions.

Newsom also is withdrawing the lethal injection regulations that death penalty opponents already have tied up in courts and shuttering the new execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison that has never been used. “The intentional killing of another person is wrong and as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual,” he said in prepared remarks.

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.” He also said innocent people have been wrongly convicted and sometimes put to death.

Newsweek reports:

California last executed someone in 2006, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor. Since then, the state’s death row population has grown to house a quarter of all condemned inmates in the United States, AP reported.

In 2016, voters narrowly voted for a measure that would speed up executions. Newsom said he worried that the executions of more than 20 inmates who have exhausted their appeals would be resumed. Newsom’s decision was readily criticized by the president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, Michele Hanisee, The Sacramento Bee reported.

“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,” Hanisee said in a statement.