California Halts the Use of the Death Penalty

Gov. Gavin Newsom signing the executive order placing a moratorium on the death penalty.

Gov. Gavin Newsom dealt a major blow to the nation’s already anemic death penalty on Wednesday when he announced a moratorium on the practice in California. With 737 death row prisoners, the state has by far the nation’s largest death row, dwarfing the next largest states, Florida with 353 and Texas with 232. The death penalty is a barbaric penalty that is riddled with error and bias, and other states should follow California’s lead in halting its use immediately.   

The impact of Gov. Newsom’s decision cannot be understated. By suspending the death penalty in California, Newsom reduced the number of death row prisoners in the United States under threat of execution by over 25 percent.

The death penalty in California, and everywhere it is practiced in America, is inseparable from the taint of racial discrimination. In fact, racial bias does not come at one stage of this process — it permeates the entire process. Prosecutors discriminate against jurors of color in jury selection, and the death penalty is used overwhelmingly in favor of white victims rather than victims of color. 

The death penalty in California also suffers from an innocence problem. Five former death row prisoners have been exonerated in California, and there are almost certainly other innocent prisoners who remain on the row while their appeals languish under California’s broken system.

There is also a base problem of unfairness with the practice that is largely unseen by the public in the form of abysmal lawyering that all too often is behind death sentences. Twenty-five years ago, Steve Bright, a renowned civil rights lawyer from Atlanta, said the death penalty is reserved not for those who commit the worst crimes, but for those with the worst lawyers. Sadly his words ring as true today as they did then. While there are hundreds of qualified, hard-working death penalty attorneys, too many defendants face capital trials with the worst our profession has to offer.   

Gov. Newsom’s action has California taking the lead in halting executions on the nation’s largest death row. But it’s also worth pointing out that he is now part of an accelerating nationwide trend in the legislatures, courts, and governors that have weighed the death penalty’s fatal flaws and rejected it accordingly.

The Washington State Supreme Court ended the death penalty in 2018, becoming the third high court to reject the death penalty under state constitutional grounds because of racial bias. Wyoming and Utah — both conservative states — have each come close to repealing the death penalty, based on concerns about costs and innocence. The New Hampshire House voted overwhelmingly for repeal this month, and the bill now moves to the New Hampshire Senate, where it has previously passed. And a large number of governors have now suspended the death penalty because of grave concerns with its fairness and applications, including the governors of Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine just announced a moratorium because of the unconstitutional and excruciating pain inflicted under its lethal injection protocol.

The death penalty represents the most egregious wrong our criminal punishment system can mete out — taking someone’s life. Gov. Newsom has struck a blow against this barbaric and flawed practice. Legislators, justices, and governors should take note. The U.S. Supreme Court should take note.

The tide is turning against the death penalty, and now is the time to end this arbitrary, unfair, and discriminatory method of punishment nationally.       

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Ms. Gloria Anasyrma

They are only ending it in California itself. They plan on outsourcing it to Texas, Mexico, India & Saudi Arabia whoever is cheapist.

reality check fail

Ms. Gloria Anasyrma

It cannot be outsourced to Mexico as the death penalty is illegal in Mexico, and in fact anyone charged with a death penalty offence in the united states will not be extradited by Mexico.

Death penalty and slavery have been prohibited in Mexico, that is why the united states started the Mexican war, because Texas was part of Mexico and would not allow the southerners who migrated there to practiced slavery. the united states started a war with Mexico to seize the land to enable Texans to keep slaves and legalize murder.

Slavery and the death penalty cannot be outsourced to Mexico. They are traditional American faults and oppressions against humanity, that is why U.S.constitution is "imperfect" to put it politely, and offence to state it as it really is.

Traditional American human rights faults is why Abraham Lincoln executed order 100, to protect the slaves after emancipation form the harms imbedded in American ignorance and bigotry.
Presidential order 100 eventually became the foundation for both the Hague and Geneva conventions as principles of basic human rights, principles which in American tradition are very deficient.

Anonymous

Even death penalty supporters should be opposed to America's system. The Judicial Branch court system works entirely differently from the rest of government. Approximately 90% of court trials in America are won or lost using past "legal precedent" by equal courts or higher courts. For example: let's say there are hard facts, real evidence and real forensics (not junk science forensics) in a single case. Even if that single case is likely legitimate - deserving of a death penalty or harsh sentence - the "legal precedent" it creates, can disproportionately harm thousands of Americans with lesser evidence and using junk science forensics). So it's never about only a single case - never! On a different topic, a shocking statistic, less than 5 U.S. Supreme Court cases in the late 1960's and 1970's resulted in over a million Americans going to prison. While in prison, these Americans pay no taxes to the government treasuries but add to our tax burden. Even if one case seems legitimate, it affects thousands of other cases. The U.S. Supreme Court has found almost every forensic method is junk science except DNA. Fingerprints, ballistics, hair samples, etc are all junk science techniques and have been proven inaccurate.

Anonymous

So we in California voted to continue death penalty just two years ago and Newsom basically acted as King and ignored the will of the people. Thats not what this country needs

Anonymous

Can we sue or take legal action on the this stupid ass Governor of California? He is against all forms of law .. he makes the state of state of Ca a sanctuary state, goes against the President in not sending the national guard to help in border security, turns on the voters after we have voted for the death penalty to stay in Ca. And this guy has no morals... he cheated on his marriage ... why did people of Ca vote this guy in as Gov?

Anonymous

You make a very broad and inaccurate statement: He is against all forms of law. He only put a moratorium on the unfair and abusive death penalty. It is clear for your response your own moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction, and you do not think rationally either.

Please open your mind and open your eyes, ant THINK before you write such obtuse and incorrect bigoted statements.

Please leave the United States, or at least California. We don't want people like you here.

Anonymous

The movie "My Cousin Vinnie" is a great comedy but is also a really good education tool on what's wrong with America's justice system. Must see movie!

Anonymous

Can we sue or take legal action on the this stupid ass Governor of California? He is against all forms of law .. he makes the state of state of Ca a sanctuary state, goes against the President in not sending the national guard to help in border security, turns on the voters after we have voted for the death penalty to stay in Ca. And this guy has no morals... he cheated on his marriage ... why did people of Ca vote this guy in as Gov?

Anonymous

Anonymous March 13, 2019
You are completely mistaken. Because he has morals he has stopped the abusive unfair death penalty. Your own moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction.

Anonymous

No, you can’t. The governor of a state has the right to stay any death penalty execution set to take place in their state. It is his or her right as given by law. Learn your laws.

PS: Saying one man isn’t morally fit to serve due to infidelity while following another proven of the same act is hypocritical. Please look into the hush money payments that have been made public before spouting this rhetoric, please.

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