California governor to block more than 700 executions with executive order

California governor to block more than 700 executions with executive order

California governor to block more than 700 executions with executive order

"The death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian".

There are now 737 people on death row in California, making it the state with the largest death row population in the USA -one in four people sentenced to the death penalty in the country are sentenced in California.

The policy will serve as an instant reprieve for the 737 people on death row in California, which has the largest death row population in the nation.

With Newsom's move, California joins Colorado, Pennsylvania and OR as the fourth state to place a moratorium on the death penalty, though the length and reasoning for the moratoriums vary from state to state.

"Our death penalty system has been - by any measure - a failure", Newsom explained. "The intentional killing of another person is wrong".

"I do not believe that 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", he said in a statement issued with the executive order.

California has the biggest death row population in the country, with one in four U.S. inmates on death row incarcerated in the state.

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California's voters have narrowly upheld the death penalty, most recently in 2016, when they voted to speed up the process. The California Constitution gives the governor power to grant reprieves to inmates, providing he reports his reasoning to the Legislature. During that same time, 79 death row inmates have died of natural causes and 26 have died by suicide, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Republican Illinois Gov. George Ryan was the first to do so in 2000, though Illinois has since abolished the death penalty.

Newsom's action on the death penalty will no doubt place him in the national spotlight.

His order will withdraw California's lethal injection protocol, which has been challenged in court. What might have seemed avant-garde decades ago, isn't anymore: The governors of Colorado, Oregon and Washington state have issued moratoriums on executions in recent years.

There hasn't been an execution in California since 2006, amid a years-long legal battle over the state's drug cocktail.

California is one of 31 states with capital punishment.

Newsom "is usurping the express will of California voters and substituting his personal preferences via this hasty and ill-considered moratorium on the death penalty", said Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy (Los Angeles County) District Attorneys. "The number of men and women on death row who suffer from severe mental illness or impairment is shocking".

Since 1973, a total of 164 prisoners nationally - including five from California - have been freed after they were wrongfully convicted, according to "The Innocence List" maintained by The Death Penalty Information Center.

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