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Video screenshot, Office of the Governor of California

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order today placing a moratorium on executions in the state for the rest of his term. In his remarks on the decision, Newsom said capital punishment has not prevented crime, and that the death penalty has discriminated against people of color and the mentally ill. The order will also end California's protocol for performing legal injections, and shut down the execution chamber at San Quentin Prison. Newsom said the execution equipment was being removed from the death chamber even as he spoke.

The executive order means the executions of 737 inmates on death row will be put on hold indefinitely, although if California voters decide not to repeal the existing death penalty law by referendum, some future governor could resume executions with another executive order. No inmates will be released under the order.


Here's a clip; when we can find a full video of the speech, we'll update:

In his prepared remarks, Newsom said,

Our death penalty system has been – by any measure – a failure [...] The intentional killing of another person is wrong. And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual.

He added,

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. [...] In short, the death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.

Noting that 164 people have been freed from death row after evidence showed they were wrongly convicted, Newsom pointed out that, given the rate of overall exonerations, if every convict currently on death row were to be executed, statistics suggest 30 of them would be innocent.

Newsom also acknowledged it's not easy to reconcile the wishes of all victims' families, noting the vastly differing reactions of two people he spoke with. One told him he had a moral duty to "eradicate evil" by executing those who had done evil. The other, the mother of a murder victim, said if the state executed her daughter's killer, Newsom would be hurting her family by adding death to death.

CA Governor Announces Executive Action to Halt Use of Death Penalty | NBCLA youtu.be

Citing attorney and activist Bryan Stevenson, Newsom added,

It's not the question [...] of whether people deserve to die for their heinous acts. The question really is, do we have the right to kill?

In 2016, Californians voted down a ballot referendum that would have abolished the death penalty, and narrowly approved a second measure designed to increase the pace of executions. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump, who wants to execute just about everyone (even if they're proven innocent by DNA), insisted today Newsom totally betrayed the wishes of a tiny bit over half of voters:

Then again, Trump is a bloodthirsty moron.

The Sacramento Bee points out that while California has the most people on death row of any state, the state hasn't exactly been the kind of death factory states like Oklahoma and Texas have sought to be.

California has not executed anyone in more than a decade because of legal challenges to the state's execution protocol. 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 worried that it could happen soon [...]

Newsom told reporters last month that the prospect of executions resuming has been weighing on him.

"I've never believed in the death penalty from a moral perspective," he said. "The disparities are really real and raw to me now, as I spend every week working on the issues of paroles and commutations and, substantively I see those disparities."

Get ready for the usual outcry from people who demand vengeance, and who repeat in pornographic detail the depraved acts of killers. As Yr Wonkette has said before, we don't deny that murder is evil, that killers have committed indefensible horrors, or that victims have suffered terribly. But we're with Newsom: No lives are brought back by the state being a killer. The death penalty isn't administered fairly, and poor and brown defendants are far more likely to be put to death than whites are. Not to mention the enormous expense of trials and appeals. It's time for the US to join the rest of the civilized world and end capital punishment.

[Sacramento Bee / WaPo / WaPo / ACLU of Northern California]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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