On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom made a historic step forward in the death penalty abolition movement by declaring a moratorium on all California executions. “The intentional killing of another person is wrong. And as Governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual” stated the new governor during Wednesday morning's press conference. The implications of shutting down the largest death row in the Western Hemisphere are great. The moratorium will grant a reprieve for the 737 men and women currently sitting on California's death row, including the 24 people who have exhausted all their appeals and were most at risk for imminent execution. In addition to making the tenure of the governor's time in office execution-free, the moratorium will also dismantle and close the execution chamber in San Quentin and withdraw California's lethal injection protocol.
For California, which hasn't had an execution since 2006 and last year issued the lowest number of death sentences of the past 40 years, a moratorium seems like a natural next step for the state. Governor Newsom's bold action reflects the growing national trend that the death penalty is on its way out. The Golden State joins Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Oregon as the fourth state to have a governor-imposed moratorium.
This decision from the governor to spare the lives of the individuals on death row lifts up and affirms Catholic Church Teaching that all human life is sacred and must be protected.
To learn more about California's moratorium and what it means for the state and the broader movement to end the death penalty, check out the statements and articles below!
- Catholic Mobilizing Network: Catholics Laud “Bold Step” on California Execution Moratorium
- Office of the Governor: Governor Gavin Newsom Orders a Halt to the Death Penalty in California
- California Catholic Conference: California Catholic Bishops Welcome Death Penalty Moratorium
- Washington Post: California Gov. Gavin Newsom to impose moratorium on death penalty
- The New York Times: California Death Penalty Suspended; 737 Inmates Get Stay of Execution
- National Public Radio: Gov. Gavin Newsom Suspends Death Penalty In California