Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Trump blasts California governor for halting executions

California Gov. Gavin Newsom Enlarge Image California Gov. Gavin Newsom AP
Leonard Rios | 13 March, 2019, 15:42

California governor Gavin Newsom will sign an executive order placing a moratorium on the state's use of the death penalty on Wednesday morning, according to the governor's office.

California Governor Gavin Newsom will announce a moratorium on executions and a temporary reprieve for all 737 inmates on death row in the U.S. state.

"I was grateful to him", the governor said.

"There is a lot of literature and studies out there that show that the death penalty is a deeply broken system for a lot of different reasons", the American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Shilpi Agarwal said.

Another key point of Newsom's argument is the wrongful conviction and subsequent overturning of inmates on death row. "Irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error", he added, noting that the state had spent $5 billion since 1978 to keep inmates on death row.

In 2016, voters narrowly voted for a measure that would speed up executions. Twenty-five people on California's death row have exhausted all of their appeals.

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.

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One in four people on death row in the United States are in California, according to the governor's office.

At that time, Newsom said he understood that the issue "raises deeply felt passions on all sides" but he believed that Americans ultimately would look back on the death penalty "as an archaic mistake". But prisoners convicted of murder continue to be sentenced to death in local courtrooms.

Newsom's office said he can act unilaterally because he's enacting a moratorium, not changing anyone's sentence.

Studies over the past several decades have found persistent patterns of racial disparities in courts imposing the death penalty, with black people much more likely to receive such verdicts than white people, especially if the victim of their crime is white.

Newsom has been a longtime opponent of the death penalty.

"I've never believed in the death penalty from a moral perspective", he said. His administration's regulations are stalled by challenges in both state and federal court, though those lawsuits may be halted now that Newsom is officially withdrawing the regulations.

The governor told Cooper he called Trump privately to thank him for visiting Butte County in the aftermath of last year's deadly wildfires, the cause of which was its own source of discord between the two men.

California hasn't executed an inmate since 2006, when Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in office.

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