California Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce a temporary halt Wednesday to the death penalty in the state with an executive order that will grant a reprieve to the 737 inmates currently on death row. The moratorium will codify what has already been state of play in California; the state has not carried out an execution since 2006 due to legal challenges. Newsom has publicly expressed opposition to the death penalty in the past—in 2012 was the only statewide representative to support a ballot measure to end capital punishment—but the order counters recent ballot initiatives that have seen California voters push to not only keep the death penalty, but speed up the legal timeframe over which it is administered.
“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 premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people,” Newsom’s prepared remarks for Wednesday’s announcement reads. “It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.”
In addition to removing the threat of death among currently convicted prisoners, the measure will close down the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison, while also rescinding the state’s lethal injection protocol, effectively making it unable to use lethal injection to carry out the death penalty.