President Trump slammed California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who is reportedly planning to take executive action to eliminate the death penalty in the state.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the move will grant reprieves to all 737 inmates awaiting executions - "around a quarter of the country's death row inmates."
"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 premediated and discriminatory execution of its people," Newsom said in a statement distributed to several media outlets.
Newsom says the death penalty system has discriminated against mentally ill defendants and people of color. It has not made the state safer and has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, according to prepared remarks Newsom plans to deliver Wednesday morning when he signs the order.
“Our death penalty system has been – by any measure – a failure,” Newsom plans to say. “The intentional killing of another person is wrong. And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual.” -Sacramento Bee
Newsom is expected to officially announce his decision in a Wednesday morning news conference.
Via NBC4, an administration source in Newsom's office said the order does the following:
- Puts in place an executive moratorium on the death penalty in the form of a reprieve for all individuals sentenced to death in California.
- Withdrawals California's lethal injection protocol.
- Immediately closes the execution chamber at San Quentin.
- States clearly the directive does not provide for the release of any individual from prison or otherwise alter any current conviction or sentence.
Responding to the news, President Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that Newsom was "Defying voters," and that the "Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!"
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2019
California hasn't executed anyone in over a decade due to legal challenges to the state's execution protocol, however at least 20 inmates would face immediate execution if those challenges were to be resolved. According to the Bee, Newsom has said he worries it could happen soon.
Newsom has been a longtime opponent of the death penalty. While campaigning for a measure to repeal the death penalty in 2016, he told The Modesto Bee editorial board he would “be accountable to the will of the voters,” if he were elected governor.
“I would not get my personal opinions in the way of the public’s right to make a determination of where they want to take us” on the death penalty, he said. -Sacramento Bee
The death penalty moratorium will be in place for the duration of Newsom's time as governor - while a future governor could decide to resume executions.
California is one of 31 states with the death penalty, and follows several other states' governors who have placed similar moratoriums on executions.