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Governor Orders Halt to Death Penalty in California

March 13, 2019

Sacramento - California newly elected Governor, Gavin Newsom, made a major policy announcement the morning of March 13th, 2019 in the State Capitol Rotunda. Surrounded by Legislators and media, Newsom signed an executive order placing a moratorium on the death penalty in California. The executive order also calls for withdrawing California's lethal injection protocols and immediately closing the execution chanber at San Quentin State Prison. 

“Our death penalty system has been, by all measures, a failure. It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Most of all, the death penalty is absolute. It’s irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error," said Governor Newsom. As Governor Newsom spoke, Correctional Officers began to dismantle the death chamber, taking the chairs and beds to a storage facility while locking up the doors to the actual death chamber. 


Currently, there are 737 people on death row in California and it is the largest population in the Western Hemispere. No one has been executed in the state since 2006 because California’s execution protocols have not been lawful. Since 1978, California has spent $5 billion on a death penalty system that has executed 13 people. There have been innocent people sentenced to death in California. Since 1973, 164 prisioners nationally have been found innocent and were consequently freed from death row, including 5 from California. 

The death chamber currently resides within the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone issued a statement on behalf of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops regarding the declaration of a moratorium on executions by Governor Newsom. "We appreciate this recognition that the state has the adequate means to defend human dignity and public safety without recourse to capital punishment.  We ask the Governor to urge the legislature to find a permanent legislative solution that will end the practice of capital punishment in our state for good." 

To read the Bishop's statement on this issue, please click here.>>

To read the actual Executive Order signed by Governor Newsom, please click here.>>