A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officer opens the door to San Quentin State Prison's death row on August 15, 2016 in San Quentin, California.
On Oct. 1, 1993 Davis kidnapped 12-year-old Polly Klaas from her southern California home. He's known as the "Grim Sleeper" because detectives thought he took a 14-year break in killing between 1988 and 2002. "The number of men and women on death row who suffer from severe mental illness or impairment is shocking".
Newsom's office said he can act unilaterally because he's enacting a moratorium, not changing anyone's sentence.
It's not new that there's a partisan divide on the death penalty. 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. In California, voters in 2012 rejected a proposition that would have ended the death penalty - though only by a four-point margin.
Newsom believes the death penalty is ineffective as a crime deterrent, expensive, and racially discriminatory, saying it "discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford expensive legal representation". California has spent $5 billion since 1978 on its death row, he said. "And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual", Newsome will say, according to prepared remarks published by Buzzfeed.
Other governors also have enacted moratoriums.
The governors of Pennsylvania, Washington and OR have imposed moratoriums on executions, and the former Colorado governor refused to execute someone on death row.
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"Our death penalty system has been - by any measure - a failure", Newsom explained.
At least one conservative group applauded Newsom's efforts.
He also said innocent people had been wrongly convicted and sometimes put to death. A judge is reviewing the latest execution protocol submitted by the state, and Newsom believed that its approval could come soon - clearing the way for executions to begin in California again.
Newsom's decision will be officially announced on Wednesday, according to the NYT. Over the last five years, two different attempts have been made to repeal the death penalty. "I've carved out my piece of all this". The Democrat's order will immediately close the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison and withdraw California's lethal injection protocol.
Newsom's aides said it has not yet been decided what will become of the execution chamber, nor whether corrections officials have been told to top preparing for executions, for instance by running drills.
The governor's decision brings California in line with Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania - all of which have governor-issued moratoria - and adds momentum to a national movement working to end capital punishment. Another 26 committed suicide.
Newsom explained that he spoke to the president "because I wanted to extend to him my appreciation" for his visit to California areas hit by wildfires and to "express the fact that the people in those communities were grateful to him".