Skip to Content
News

Newsom Shuts Down Death Row ~ Governor Issues Moratorium on Death Penalty

1:02 PM PDT on March 13, 2019

    Kelly M. Grow / California Department of Water Resources

    [dropcap size=big]C[/dropcap]alifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order placing a moratorium on executions on Wednesday, giving all 737 inmates on California’s death row a reprieve from being executed, theoretically for as long as he’s in office.

    The order is backed by a governor’s ability to commute death sentences. These are usually done individually, but on Wednesday, Gov. Newsom established a blanket moratorium. The move is reminiscent of Newsom’s then-bold move in 2004 to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as mayor of San Francisco, well before gay unions became state and national law.

    California is home to the largest death row in the United States, with 25 who have been convicted of murder and have exhausted their appeals, according to the L.A. Times. California hasn’t executed a prisoner since 2006 because of legal challenges to its chosen execution method, lethal injection.

    RELATED: Street Vendor Gets a Taste of Justice ~ The Case of Humberto Yauli

    The death penalty has been an abject failure. It discriminates based on the color of your skin or how much money you make. It’s ineffective, irreversible, and immoral. It goes against the very values that we stand for — which is why CA is putting a stop to this failed system.

    — Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 13, 2019

    [dropcap size=big]N[/dropcap]ewsom is a longtime opponent of the death penalty, and sought counsel from religious leaders, state lawmakers, and former governors from around the United States before making his decision, reports said. The office of the governor said that about six in 10 people on California’s death row are people of color.

    “Our death penalty system has been, by all measures, a failure. It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Most of all, the death penalty is absolute. It’s irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error,” Newsom in a statement Wednesday.

    Newsom’s order could be challenged in court, as a governor needs the state Supreme Court’s approval to pardon or commute the sentence of anyone twice convicted of a felony, the Associated Press said.

    Gov. Newsom moments before announcing the moratorium order. Photo by Kelly M. Grow/California Department of Water Resources.
    Gov. Newsom moments before announcing the moratorium order. Photo by Kelly M. Grow/California Department of Water Resources.

    [dropcap size=big]P[/dropcap]ublic opinion has shifted on the death penalty. A 2018 Pew Research survey found that there was an uptick in support of the death penalty, but support is far lower than it was in 1996. The survey found that in 2018, 54 percent of Americans supported the death penalty, while 78 percent of Americans supported capital punishment in 1996.

    “Today’s decision doesn’t abolish the death penalty, but today is a necessary step,” said Mary Kate DeLucco, a spokesperson for the nonprofit Death Penalty Focus. “The moratorium will give the governor the time he needs to fix this broken system.”

    California joins governors in Oregon, Colorado, and Pennsylvania in using similar executive powers to establish similar moratoriums according to USA Today. Illinois and Washington have completely outlawed executions.

    RELATED: Death of a Godfather: Peter ‘Sana’ Ojeda Reshaped the Mexican Mafia and Paved the Way for SoCal's Gentrification

    Stay in touch

    Sign up for our free newsletter

    More from L.A. TACO

    What To Eat This Weekend: Cannabis-Infused Boat Noodles, Thai Smashburgers, and “Grass & Ass”

    Plus, a pizza festival and a respected chef from Toluca, Mexico comes to Pasadena to consult for a restaurant menu, including enchiladas divorciadas, and more.

    April 12, 2024

    Facing ‘Immediate Layoffs,’ L.A. TACO Launches Membership Drive to Save Our Publication

    After Sunday, we do not have enough money to make another payroll. We need 5,000 members to become sustainable. Our deadline is April 26th to hit this goal.

    April 12, 2024

    The Final Round of TACO MADNESS 2024 Is Now Open for Voting! It’s Highland Park vs. San Fernando Valley

    It was an incredible comeback to deny last year's winner and bring a first-timer from the San Fernando Valley to the finals. They will have an uphill battle against Villa's Tacos, who lead all teams in total votes so far in the 2024 competition. L.A.'s favorite taco will be decided on Sunday, April 14th, at 11:59 P.M. 

    April 11, 2024

    This New Koreatown Onigiri Spot Is Unlike Any Other in Southern California

    Supamu, which started as a food truck and a series of pop-ups, brands itself as Southern California’s first Okinawa-style onigiri. What sets its onigiri apart from competitors? All the details are in the post, plus where to find it.

    April 10, 2024

    When ‘Tomorrow’ Never Comes: The Saga of a DTLA Bar Staff’s Struggle To Get Paid

    A barback recalled a time when he had to use a payday loan app to cover a dinner bill. “How can you, with a straight face, hand someone a check knowing that there isn’t money in the account,” the barback questioned.

    April 10, 2024
    See all posts