- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to suspend California’s death penalty on Wednesday, pausing the slated execution of 737 prisoners.

Mr. Newsom’s office said the measure will close San Quentin Prison’s execution chamber, but will not lead to any changes to sentences or a release of inmates.

The office said Mr. Newsom’s order will stay in effect during his time as governor, calling the execution of inmates “a failure.”

“Our death penalty system has been — by any measure — a failure,” Newsom said in a written statement. “It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. But most of all, the death penalty is absolute, irreversible and irreparable in the event of a human error.”

He also added that the death penalty, ‘has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation.”

While Mr. Newsom can suspend executions, the power to permanently ban the death penalty is left to California voters. Voters narrowly rejected that option in both 2012 and 2016.

President Trump criticized the move in a tweet this morning, saying Mr. Newsom was “defying voters” by keeping “stone cold killers” alive.

“Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers,” he wrote. “Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I.”

California has not carried out an execution since January 2006 following the state’s lethal injection protocol being declared unconstitutional by a federal judge.

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