California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that there would be no more state executions during his time living in the governor’s mansion, effectively halting hundreds of death penalty convictions.
Newsom described in an executive order that the death penalty was “premeditated and discriminatory” and that no “civilized society” should arbitrate such an action.
“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 on Wednesday, ABC News reports. “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.”
“It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation,” the governor continued. “It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent.
“But most of all, the death penalty is absolute. Irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error,” Newsom said.
According to the report, this puts in limbo 737 state inmates that were facing death penalty executions.
The governor is almost certain to face a legal challenge as a previous ballot proposal to end the death penalty in the state was voted down in 2016, ABC News reports.
The governor’s actions have been described as superseding the decisions of judges and juries in his state to provide justice.
From ABC News:
Sharon Sellitto, a victim’s advocate whose brother, Paul Cosner, is believed by authorities to be a murder victim of serial killers Charles Ng and Leonard Lake, told ABC she is “heartbroken” by the governor’s decision.
“He’s not the judge, not the jury and was not at the trial,” Sellitto told ABC News in a phone interview Tuesday evening. “He should be concerned with the victims, not the perpetrators.”
Sellitto said she received a phone call Tuesday night from the Department of Corrections Office of Victims Survivors Rights and Services giving her a heads-up about the governor’s announcement and providing her with a contact in his office if she wished to speak to anyone further about his decision.
“Awful, just awful,” she said. “Nobody should use the word ‘justice’ in my presence again.”
The Association of Deputy District Attorneys criticized the decision as “hasty and ill-considered.”
“The voters of the State of California support the death penalty,” Association President Michele Hanisee said, ABC News reports. “Governor Newsom, who supported the failed initiative to end the death penalty in 2006, is usurping the express will of California voters and substituting his personal preferences via this hasty and ill-considered moratorium on the death penalty.”
Some others, including Hollywood icon Kim Kardashian, have come out in support of the governor.
President Trump voiced his opposition to the order in a tweet which accused the governor of “defying voters” in his state.
“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!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.