Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced Wednesday that no executions will occur on his watch, granting temporary reprieves to all 737 inmates on the state’s death row. . . .
“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,” Mr. Newsom said. “In short, the death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.”
[T]his act of executive mercy recognizes the extreme failures of the death penalty. In announcing his order, Mr. Newsom noted a National Academy of Sciences report estimating that one out of every 25 people on death row is innocent. “If that’s the case, that means if we move forward executing 737 people in California, we will have executed roughly 30 people that are innocent,” he said. Other research suggests that it also does not deter crime.
While the state hasn’t executed anyone since 2006, it has the largest death row in the Western Hemisphere, a quarter of America’s death row population. Six in 10 prisoners on California’s death row are people of color, a disparity Mr. Newsom cited in his rationale for the moratorium.
What’s more, the death penalty system is so dysfunctional and costs so much to run that Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court wondered in 2016 whether these “fundamental defects” warrant a deeper look at the constitutionality of letting inmates languish on death row for decades.[…] In due time, this growing chorus against a system of punishment that has been shown to be discriminatory, prone to error and ineffective as a crime-fighting tool should spell its demise once and for all.
Read the full New York Times editorial.
The City Project applauds Gov. Newsom for recognizing the value of human life, dignity, and freedom from discrimination. The Death Penalty is morally wrong, cruel and unusual, prone to error, unnecessary, inefficient, expensive to administer, and fundamentally unfair.