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California governor halts death penalty

The lethal injection chamber at the state prison in San Quentin, Calif. Associated Press/Photo by Eric Risberg (file)

California governor halts death penalty

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that puts a moratorium on capital punishment, delaying the execution of 737 death row inmates. The order also closes the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison and effectively withdraws the state’s lethal injection protocol. The moratorium will last as long as Newsom is governor.

California has the most death row inmates of any state. The last execution was carried out in 2006. Voters chose to keep the death penalty in 2012. In 2016, 51 percent of Californians rejected a measure to end the practice and instead voted to speed up the appeals process for faster executions.

While campaigning in 2016 to repeal the death penalty, Newsom, a Democrat, told The Modesto Bee that if he ever became governor, he would be “accountable to the will of the voters” on the issue. In prepared remarks Wednesday, he said that “the intentional killing of another person is wrong. And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual.” President Donald Trump criticized Newsom’s move Wednesday, tweeting, “Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers. Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!”

The governors of Oregon, Colorado, and Pennsylvania have also placed moratoriums on capital punishment. Twenty states have abolished the practice altogether through legislation or the courts.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this article to note that California Gov. Gavin Newsome signed the executive order on Wednesday.

Harvest Prude

Harvest is a former political reporter for WORLD’s Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate.



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