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California Governor Signs Order To Temporarily Suspend Executions

The order grants a reprieve to the 737 inmates who are currently on California's death row.
Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 13, 2019

California's governor signed an executive order Wednesday to temporarily suspend executions in the state.

The order granted a reprieve to the 737 people who are currently on California's death row. 

According to the governor's office, at least 24 of those inmates have already exhausted their appeals, so they could be scheduled to die while Gov. Gavin Newsom's in office. To be clear, though, California inmates on death row will not be freed from prison.

"There are innocent people on death row. There are guilty people on death row, and those people are not going to be let out by this act, they will be held to account," Newsom said.

The order will also close the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison and withdraw California's lethal injection protocol.

That protocol's been tied up in a series of legal challenges, so California hasn't executed a death row inmate since 2006.

Newsom called the death penalty system a "failure" and said it has "discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford expensive legal representation." 

As governor, Newsom doesn't have the authority to completely abolish the state's death penalty. That power lies with voters, who most recently rejected a measure to ban capital punishment back in 2016. His order will expire when he leaves office.