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California governor suspends death penalty
13 March 2019, 11:28 | Glen Norman
California governor suspends death penalty
President Donald Trump is speaking out against Governor Gavin Newsom's planned Executive Order to halt the state's death penalty executions.
California has executed 13 people since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Among the groups most supportive of the issue are white evangelical Protestants; more than 7 in 10 support the use of the death penalty.
An execution chamber in a file
Gov. Gavin Newsom is putting a moratorium on the death penalty in California, sparing the lives of more than 700 death-row inmates.
But Newsom has called the death penalty a costly "failure" that discriminates against the mentally ill, minorities and the poor.
"The intentional killing of another person is wrong", Newsom said.
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While the governor's move is certain to be challenged in court, aides say his power to grant reprieves is written into the state constitution and that he is not altering any convictions or allowing any condemned inmate a chance at an early release. After Newsom's term is up, the future governor could choose to resume overseeing executions or continue the ban. The foundation is in favor of the death penalty and helped draft the 2016 resolution to fast track executions.
It follows Newsom's first executive action related to a clemency request last month, when he ordered additional DNA testing in the case of death row inmate Kevin Cooper. With a judge's approval, however, executions could quickly resume in the absence of the executive order. Those on death row will remain in prison under the order.
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. In recent years, other states have abolished the death penalty and several other governors have placed moratoriums on executions.
The death penalty spat was the latest between Newsom and Trump, who recently clashed over California wasting federal money on a high-speed rail project. "Racial bias and unfairness run deep throughout the justice system but especially when it comes to the death penalty", she wrote.
He said that roughly 60 percent of inmates waiting in the state to be executed are people of color while many criminals executed in the past year suffered from mental impairments, adding that in the past 45 years, 164 death-row inmates have been exonerated, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
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