Gov. Gavin Newsom to Suspend Death Penalty in California - Trump Fumes

Execution chamber at San Quentin Prison

In 2014, a federal judge ruled that California's death penalty system deployed "arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed". His administration argues that capital punishment has been a failure, pointing at pervasive inequality running through the U.S. criminal justice system, the significant number of innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted, and evidence that the costly system doesn't increase safety.

"I couldn't sleep at night", Newsom said at the state capitol, adding later, "Do we have the right to kill?"

A 2011 study found that the death penalty had cost California taxpayers over $4 billion since its reinstatement in 1978. Californians rejected a ballot measure which would have ended the death penalty in 2016.

"As conservatives, we applaud Governor Newsom's decision because the death penalty violates our beliefs in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and the value of life". Human Rights Watch believes these rights can not be reconciled with the death penalty, a form of punishment unique in its cruelty and finality.

"[Newsom] recognizes that California voters have spoken on the issue and, if elected governor, he'd respect the will of the electorate by following and implementing the law", said Dan Newman, a spokesman for Newsom when he was lieutenant governor.

Newsom, a Democrat who took office in January, has been a staunch opponent of the death penalty, last carried out in California in 2006.

Newsom's office told The Associated Press he will issue an executive order Wednesday granting a reprieve to every condemned inmate.

"Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers", the Republican president tweeted.

Marc Klaas, a prominent victim's rights advocate, said Newsom told him personally Tuesday of his intention to sign the order in Sacramento, and he is not happy.

California Governor Gavin Newsom
California Governor Gavin Newsom

"I did this with the victims in mind", Newsom said.

"Those people are not going to be let out by this act, they will be held to account", he said.

But, in the news conference immediately after signing the executive order Wednesday morning, Newsom said that the voters chose to put him in office knowing that he has always been opposed to the death penalty.

"You can't make this up Anderson", Newsom said with a laugh. It was an abstract question.

California has not executed anyone since 2006, when Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which has been fighting in court to force the state to resume executions, said blocking Newsom's move may be hard.

Newsom vows that during his time in office no prisoner will be executed in California, which has the largest total of condemned inmates among all states nationwide.

Newsom supported a failed 2016 ballot initiative to repeal executions in the state. It doesn't free anyone on death row.

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