Newsom To Halt Death Penalty Executions

The lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin Calif

U.S. President Donald Trump was sharply critical of California, after the governor of the country's most populous state planned to issue an executive moratorium suspending the death penalty. California has executed 13 inmates, while two were executed in other states.

In 2016, California voters approved a ballot measure to fix the state's death penalty system, limiting the length of death penalty appeals to five years after conviction.

Stephen Lam / ReutersAn inmate stands against a fence at the Adjustment Center yard during a media tour of California's death row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California 29 December, 2015. Trump says "Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!"

"We commend California Governor Gavin Newsom on this common-sense step".

Ellen Kreitzberg, a death penalty expert and opponent at Santa Clara University law school in California, welcomed Newsom's move.

The state joins Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, which have similar bans, and 20 states that have abolished the death penalty, it said.

Newsom's declaration also included an order to close the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison and the withdrawal of a new execution protocol.

"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", Newsom said, according to the San Fransisco Chronicle.

Newsom's executive order completely goes against voters' wishes throughout the state.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, called Newsom's actions "an abuse of power".

It does not provide for the release of any death row inmates from prison.

"That is powerfully demonstrated by their approval of Proposition 66 in 2016 to ensure the death penalty is implemented, and their rejection of measures to end the death penalty in 2016 and 2006".

"But most of all, the death penalty is absolute, irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error", he continued.

Newsom defended his right as governor to put the moratorium on the death penalty - citing statistics that there are a number of people on death row who are actually innocent of the crimes for which they've been convicted.

California has not executed anyone since 2006, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, the Press Association reports. It comes as some 20 men now on the state's death row have finally exhausted their opportunities for appeal, which is what prompted Newsom to act.

In 2014, support for the death penalty among Democrats dropped under 50 percent in Pew's polling, the first year in which that happened.

Some supporters of the move pointed out that despite California's status as a blue state, Newsom's decision was a bold one in light of voters' recent support for state-sponsored executions.

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