Skip to Content

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

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

‘I Wasn’t Prepared For This:’ Placita Olvera’s Iconic El Burro Is Given A 30-Day Eviction Notice Following A Unanimous Vote on Thursday

This Thursday, the Board of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument Authority Commissioners voted to evict La Carreta despite attempts from the family, community, and even the city council to save it. 

July 13, 2024

Downtown L.A.’s First Proudly Queer-Owned Dispensary Is Thriving

The disco ball and neon signs illuminate a wall dedicated to LGBTQIA+ products at Green Qween. Despite the queer community being at the forefront of medical marijuana usage during the HIV and AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s, today, queer representation remains low in the cannabis industry.

July 12, 2024

What To Eat This Weekend In L.A.: Whole Lobster Katsu, Cannabis Omakase, Smoked Brisket Agnolotti, and a Carne Asada Fest Discount

This Saturday, EVERYone is invited to the carne asada. Asada Fest, to be specific. Plus, two new restaurants team up to bring an enticing new menu at Echo Park lake's boathouse restaurant.

July 12, 2024

This Veteran Journalist Wrote a True Crime Book About Gangs Taxing Streets Vendors in MacArthur Park

In his new book "The Rent Collectors: Exploitation, Murder and Redemption in Immigrant L.A." (Astra House, out this month), former Westlake resident Jesse Katz dives into the life of a teenaged member of the Columbia Lil Cycos gang.

July 11, 2024

His Taquería Is Almost At The North Pole, But He Gets His Tortillas From L.A.

This lone taco truck sits in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, a visa-free Island that is home to about 2,900 people from over 50 nationalities located a few hundred miles from the North Pole. The owner is a Swedish taquero who is so obsessed with L.A.-style tacos, that he decided to open the most northernmost taquería in the world.

July 11, 2024
See all posts