- 2020 Democratic candidates Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris are applauding California Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan to halt the death penalty in the state.
- California has 737 inmates on death row, more than any other state.
- Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who previously served as the state’s attorney general, in a tweet referred to capital punishment as “immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and proven to be unequally applied.”
Two high-profile Democratic presidential candidates are lauding California Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to impose a moratorium on executions in his state.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who’s focused heavily on criminal justice reform throughout his political career, in a tweet said, “Inspired! I applaud @GavinNewsom’s decision to impose a moratorium on this immoral and ineffective policy. Because of his leadership and the activism of people across the country, 737 human beings will not be put to death in the name of the people.”
Similarly, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who previously served as the state’s attorney general, in a tweet referred to capital punishment as “immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and proven to be unequally applied.”
“I applaud Governor @GavinNewsom for his decision to put a moratorium on this deeply flawed system of capital punishment in California,” Harris added.
Expanding on the matter in a statement, Harris said, “I believe if evidence proves one human being murdered another human being, there should be swift and severe punishment. But the death penalty in America has been imposed as a final punishment to many who were later found to be innocent…Killing one innocent person would be too many. It’s time to turn the page on this chapter and end a deeply flawed system of capital punishment in California.”
Harris also pointed to disproportionate number of people of colour on death row and the financial costs of continuing capital punishment as strong reasons to end the practice.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has condoned abolishing the death penalty and is among the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination, said the move is “very good news.”
“We can’t properly reform our broken criminal justice system without ending the death penalty,” Sanders tweeted. “We must abolish the death penalty once and for all.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another top 2020 candidate, “supports Governor Newsom’s decision to place a moratorium on the death penalty,” an aide for the senator’s campaign told INSIDER. Warren drew attention in 2015 when she opposed the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Newsom, a Democrat, is expected to announce the moratorium on the death penalty, which will occur via an executive order, on Wednesday.
According to a statement from Newsom’s office to INSIDER, he’ll say, “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. The death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.”
There have no been no executions in California since 2006, largely due to legal challenges, but there are 737 inmates on death row in the Western state. Newsom’s Wednesday announcement will grant these inmates a temporary reprieve.
Twenty states and Washington, DC, have abolished the death penalty, an issue the public remains divided over.
Roughly 56% of Americans support capital punishment, according to an October 2018 Gallup poll, but that marks a stark decline from roughly a decade ago. Gallup polling from 2006 shows 69% of Americans supported the death penalty.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump slammed Newsom over the move.
“Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers. Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!” Trump on Wednesday tweeted.
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