California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on Wednesday abolishing the death penalty in his state. Prior to his order, 19 other states had already outlawed the death penalty.

Newsom’s act grants a reprieve to 737 inmates, some of whom have been waiting on death row for decades. Over half of those awaiting capitol punishment in California are minorities, something Newsom believes is unfair. An execution has not happened in California in over a decade because of legal hurdles.


Newsom, a longstanding critic of the death penalty, issued a statement explaining his reasoning for ending it: “Our death penalty system has been — by any measure — a failure. The intentional killing of another person is wrong. And as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual.”

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In addition, Newsom notes how executions needlessly wasted money, failed to make state residents safer and in fact discriminated against those with of color or who have mental illnesses. He also referenced cases where people were wrongly convicted.

Despite Newsom’s aversion to the death penalty, many in his state support it; Californian citizens recently voted to expedite executions and against ending them. Those who support the death penalty are already arguing that Newsom’s order is unlawful.

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