- San Francisco announced it didn’t have any inmates on death row on Wednesday.
- But with more than 700 death row inmates, California still has the most with death sentences of any US state.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom’s halted the use of the death penalty in the state in March 2019.
- The San Francisco District Attorney said estimates suggest reducing one death sentence to life in prison could save the state up to $US90,000 per year.
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San Francisco’s death row is now empty.
Following California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium of the death penalty in March 2019, the city reduced the sentence of its final remaining death row inmate to life in prison on Wednesday.
“My office has not sought and will not seek the death penalty, and I am pleased that we have been able to ensure that no one previously sentenced in San Francisco will remain on death row either,” San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said in a press release.
While Newsom and Boudin work to reduce the state’s death row numbers, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra continues to uphold death row convictions.
University of San Francisco law professor, Lara Bazelon, wrote for Slate that Becerra “has continued to fight to cement these convictions” as COVID-19 continues to spread through the prison system.
Becerra, who once tweeted that Newsom’s death row decision “represents a bold, new direction in California’s march toward perfecting our search for justice,” continued to push for the death penalty on the same day of Newsom’s moratorium announcement, demonstrating the difference in approach between the two members of California’s executive branch.
Since 2000, approximately 300 people have been sentenced to death in California. The remaining 400+ death row inhabitants have waited there for more than 20 years as the state has only executed 13 people since 1978.
“I hope that other prosecutors and political leaders in the country follow our lead – one that is consistent with Governor Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty – and end this barbaric practice,” Boudin said in the press release.
According to a state estimate, reducing one death sentence to a life in prison could save California up to $US90,000 a year. California has not executed a prisoner since 2006, leading to overcrowding in its prisons during a pandemic.
Over the weekend, California’s 10th death row inmate died from COVID-19 as the pandemic ravages the state’s prison systems, The Mercury News reported. Since the onset of the pandemic, San Quentin State Prison alone has seen more than 2,100 inmates and staff contract the virus, according to CBS Sacramento.
California leads the nation in coronavirus cases with more than 486,000 total reported cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.