California governor to halt executions, temporary reprieve for inmates

California governor to halt executions, temporary reprieve for inmates

Gavin Newsom will sign an executive order today that effectively halts executions, USA media reported. After Newsom's term is up, the future governor could choose to resume overseeing executions or continue the ban.

How did we get here?

Gavin Newsom said in a statement Tuesday that he will halt all executions in the state for as long as he holds office, calling the death penalty "inconsistent with our bedrock values".

California's voters have narrowly upheld the death penalty, most recently in 2016, when they voted to speed up the process.

Newsom added, however, that he won't tolerate Trump continuing his attacks on California.

While campaigning for a measure to repeal the death penalty in 2016, he told The Modesto Bee editorial board he would "be accountable to the will of the voters", if he were elected governor.

The California governor fired back at the president during an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday.

Why did he do this? "It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford expensive legal representation", Newsom said in prepared remarks he is expected to deliver Wednesday morning.

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The order will also immediately close the execution chamber at San Quentin and states that the directive "does not provide for the release of any individual from prison or otherwise alter any current conviction or sentence", according to Newsom's office.

An execution chamber in a file photo.

His order also points to the 164 people who have been freed from death row after they were found to be wrongfully convicted. Republican Illinois Gov. George Ryan was the first to do so in 2000, though Illinois has since abolished the death penalty. But executions for more than 20 inmates who have exhausted their appeals could have resumed if those challenges were cleared up, and Newsom has said he anxious that it could happen soon.

California has not executed anyone since 2006, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, the Press Association reports. Those on death row will remain in prison under the order.

California is one of 31 states with capital punishment.

California's governor is set to issue a moratorium on capital punishment in the US's most populous state, providing a reprieve for hundreds of inmates sentenced to death.

The death penalty is not a new entrant to the political culture wars, but in recent years, the partisan split on the issue has widened.

Senator Kamala Harris, who is among a crowded field of candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, said she welcomed Newsom's move to end the "deeply flawed system of capital punishment in California". At least 18 of the 25 people who were executed past year had significant evidence of mental illness, intellectually damaging brain injuries or chronic childhood trauma or abuse, according to a Death Penalty Information Center report released in December.

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