13th Mar 2019
The governor of California Gavin Newsom is reportedly introducing a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty. This means that anyone on death row in the state of California may not face execution at all.
Newsom, who became governor in January, has spoken out against the death penalty for years; insisting the act of killing another person is immoral, regardless of the crime they committed.
‘I will not oversee it’
According to a pre-written statement, which Newsom will read publicly today, he says, “I do not believe a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people.
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“In short, the death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.
“The intentional killing of another person is wrong,” the statement reads. “And as Governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual.”
Death row in California
California has more prisoners on death row than any other state in America. The suspension of capital punishment here will offer a temporary reprieve for each of the 737 inmates currently facing execution.
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That being said, the rate of execution in California has already decreased dramatically over recent years; with the last one taking place in 2006. Despite hundreds of inmates being sentenced to death, only 13 executions have taken place in the state since 1976.
The halt on capital punishment is temporary
While the governor is wholly against the death penalty as a form of punishment, he cannot ban it permanently without a popular vote from the people. The next opportunity for this will be during the 2020 elections; though the temporary reprieve will remain in place until Newsom leaves office in 2023.
When the decision is put to the people, it’s uncertain which way they’ll vote. Californians have already voted in favour of the death penalty twice (most recently in 2016).
The response to Newsom’s decision
The response to this news has been largely positive, with many Twitter users describing it as “spectacular” and a step forward for human rights.
However, others are less pleased. Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, said by going against what Californians voted for in 2016, the governor “is usurping the expressed will of California voters.”
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