California governor to place moratorium on death penalty

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

"[Newsom] recognizes that California voters have spoken on the issue and, if elected governor, he'd respect the will of the electorate by following and implementing the law", said Dan Newman, a spokesman for Newsom when he was lieutenant governor.

Scott Peterson and Rodney Alca also can be expected to shout their own huzzahs.

With 24 inmates on death row who have exhausted their appeals, Newsom in February said he feared California could potentially execute "more prisoners than any other state in modern history" if no action was taken.

"Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!" he added on Twitter. They include Scott Peterson, whose trial for killing his wife Laci riveted the country, and Richard Davis, who kidnapped 12-year-old Polly Klaas during a slumber party and strangled her.

Newsom, who has been a vocal opponent of the death penalty, said that the system is a "failure" that "has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford legal representation". "Other people I've seen literally put to death for lesser crimes, and that concerns me".

Critics of the moratorium say Newsom's executive order ignores the will of the people since California voters in 2016 rejected a state ballot initiative to abolish the death penalty. California voters even voted to fast-track death sentence appeals.

"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", he said in a statement issued with the executive order.

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A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officer opens the door to San Quentin State Prison's death row on August 15, 2016 in San Quentin, California.

Dating Game Killer Rodney Alcala left a trail of bodies across the U.S. It has not made the state safer and has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, according to prepared remarks Newsom plans to deliver Wednesday morning when he signs the order.

Ultimately, Newsom decided the moratorium was in the best interest of the state, because he believes the death penalty "is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian".

Aides say that none of the condemned men or women will ever be eligible for early parole.

There are now 24 inmates on death row who have run out of appeals to their sentence.

A court-ordered moratorium on executions has been in place since February 2006, when a federal judge declared that California's lethal injection protocol was unconstitutional. But executions for more than 20 inmates who have exhausted their appeals could have resumed if those challenges were cleared up, and Newsom has said he anxious that it could happen soon.

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