California governor to sign executive order stopping state’s death penalty for now

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

U.S. media report he plans to sign an executive order later on Wednesday, describing the death penalty as "inconsistent with our bedrock values".

Newsom will sign an executive order on Wednesday granting a reprieve to the state's 737 death-row inmates and shutting down the execution chamber at the San Quentin State Prison.

The president of the United States and the governor of California engaged in a game of "he said, he said" recently over whether Gavin Newsom's praise of Donald Trump included privately calling him "one of the smartest people I've ever met".

Newsom does not have the power to overturn California's death penalty law, Kreitzberg said, but he can refuse to sign any death warrants and can commute death sentences to life imprisonment.

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California has not put an inmate to death since 2006, amid legal challenges to its execution protocols and discomfort with the sentence among political leaders.

There are now 737 people on death row in California, making it the state with the largest death row population in the US -one in four people sentenced to the death penalty in the country are sentenced in California.

Two voter initiatives to end the death penalty in California have narrowly failed to gain a majority in recent years, with 48 percent support in 2012 and 4 percent support in 2016. Since 1973, five California inmates who were sentenced to death were later exonerated, his office said.

Newsom "is usurping the express will of California voters and substituting his personal preferences via this hasty and ill-considered moratorium on the death penalty", said Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy (Los Angeles County) District Attorneys.

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Newsom himself acknowledged before being elected governor that the voters have made a decision on the issue, and he said he would respect that. The order will reprieve all individuals sentenced to death in California. Death row inmates are also much more likely to have a mental illness, brain damage or brain injury, or to be intellectually disabled. "I was grateful to him", Newsom said. His administration's regulations are stalled by challenges in both state and federal court, though those lawsuits may be halted now that Newsom is officially withdrawing them.

But a separate proposition voted on in 2016 won support for its demand to speed up executions in California.

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

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have already abolished capital punishment.

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This Sept. 21, 2010, file photo shows the interior of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign a moratorium on the death penalty. "It is certain that as long as there is the death penalty there is the risk of executing innocent people".

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