When Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday putting a moratorium on the death penalty in California, he called it the culmination of a personal, 40-year journey….
Saying the death penalty is “ineffective, irreversible and immoral,” Newsom granted reprieves to all 737 Californians awaiting executions – sparing the lives of a quarter of the country’s death row inmates as long as he is governor.
He said the death penalty system has discriminated against mentally ill defendants and people of color, has not made the state safer and has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.
Sister Helen Prejean writes:
Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement of a moratorium on executions in California is truly good news—for the 737 souls on the country’s largest death row, and for all who care about human rights. Gov. Newsom is also using his full executive power to deal two other blows to California’s machinery of death: he has ordered the execution chamber at San Quentin to be torn down, and he is withdrawing the state’s lethal injection protocol.
“Today’s declaration is a bold step toward abolishing a broken system that fails to protect the inviolable dignity of the human person,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice. “It reaffirms that every life is sacred and has God-given value.”
Archbishop José H. Gomez writes:
For many years now, my brother Catholic bishops and I have been calling for an end to the death penalty, not only in California but throughout the United States. So this is a good day for California and a good day for our country.
There are important public policy reasons for ending the death penalty.
It does not deter violent crime and it does not bring true justice or healing to victims of violent crime. And sadly, judicial execution has always been a punishment imposed far more often on African Americans, Hispanics and the poor in our society.
But the most important reasons for ending the death penalty are moral.