Governor Gavin Newsom Orders a Halt to the Death Penalty in California

Press Release

Photo: Kelly M. Grow / California Department of Water Resources

Executive order declares a moratorium on executions of California’s 737 inmates on death row

 Governor Newsom also orders a withdrawal of California’s lethal injection protocol and calls for the immediate closure of the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison

 The order does not provide for the release of any individual from prison or otherwise alter any current conviction or sentence

SACRAMENTO –- Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order today 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 chamber at San Quentin State Prison. The order does not provide for the release of any individual from prison or otherwise alter any current conviction or sentence.

“The intentional killing of another person is wrong and as Governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual,” said Governor Newsom. “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.”

There are 737 people currently on death row in California. California has the largest death row population in the Western Hemisphere — one in four people on death row in the United States are in California.

The death penalty is unevenly and unfairly applied to people of color, people with mental disabilities, and people who cannot afford costly legal representation. More than six in ten people on California’s death row are people of color. A 2005 study found that those convicted of killing whites were more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death as those convicted of killing blacks and more than four times as likely as those convicted of killing Latinos. At least 18 of the 25 people executed in the U.S. in 2018 had one or more of the following impairments: significant evidence of mental illness; evidence of brain injury, developmental brain damage, or an IQ in the intellectually disabled range; chronic serious childhood trauma, neglect, and/or abuse.

Innocent people have been sentenced to death in California. Since 1973, 164 condemned prisoners nationwide, including five in California, have been freed from death row after they were found to have been wrongfully convicted. No person has been executed since 2006 because California’s execution protocols have not been lawful. Yet today, 25 California death row inmates have exhausted all of their state and federal appeals and could be eligible for an execution date.

Since 1978, California has spent $5 billion on a death penalty system that has executed 13 people. Three states — Oregon, Colorado and Pennsylvania — have Governor-imposed moratoria on the death penalty and in 2018, the Washington State Supreme Court struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional and “racially biased.”

A copy of the executive order signed today can be found here.


  1. “More than six of ten people on death row are people of color.” Blacks and Hispanics commit a higher percentage of crimes. Whose fault is that?

    • maybe the good governor wants to suggest that we drag a bunch of white people off the streets and tell them they are criminals and were picked to even out the system… this way it’s more “equitable.” Newsom is NUTS! He has lost his mind! In 2016, we voted to retain capital punishment and shorten the appeals process.

  2. Since blacks usually kill other blacks, if someone is three times more likely to get the death penalty for killing whites, it’s probably a white person. You don’t see whites whining if they kill other whites and get a harsher sentence.

    Nothing but LIBERAL BS.

  3. Nice move Gavin…..what a slap in the face to the people who’s lives that were changed forever from these people’s violent crimes. Sure cut them a break and treat them like the victims….way to go. Wake up and think about what you’re doing. Terrible leadership

  4. Hey Gavin, How about we just release them all into your nice new white neighborhood in Fair Oaks just off Tobia Way. Maybe they can just hang out in Bannister Park right behind your house. Lets Vote on it!

  5. Apparently, the governor’s office got thousands of calls about this. People are really upset over what Gavin is trying to do. People were livid!

  6. What is Gavin thinking? Has he totally lost his mind? I read about one death row inmate who 35 years ago murdered a 17 yer old girl in such a brutal fashion that words cannot be found to describe it. He’s 53 now and his appeal has been exhausted and now he may get away with this heinous murder? It turns my stomach!

  7. Californians have voted this governor into office who dictates against the will of we the people. Californians are stupid.

  8. Newsom stated that the death penalty is not working. Well, it’s not working because it’s NOT APPLIED! Someone should remind the good governor of that if he can’t figure it out himself.

    • I agree with you Jim. We the people voted it in, so use it. Texas does not have a problem enforcing the death penalty.

  9. No Californians ,will not forget ! We may be fooled by an ass. But his stink will make sure he isn’t around long. What a lying stinking pig you are ,Newsome, hope slaughter comes soon!

  10. Why should I as a taxpayer financially support these worthless pieces of crap. They shouldn’t get 20 or 30 yrs to appeal their cases. They get three hot meals a day, a bed, heating and air conditioning, free medical care, free dental care and the list goes on. But we have Starving Children and Families on the streets cuz they can’t afford a place to live because rent is too high. I suggest you have a new some actually look at the people who are trying to live and not the people who are trying to kill the living. Let’s put all these guys and girls in his front yard. I bet he’ll put them back in jail on death row!

  11. I wish when Gavin was loosing sleep he would visit the CDCR website that gives an exact calulation of black white and latino inmates. There are 19more inmate that are white than black and the latinos mostly are gang violance. Know what you are talking about when you decided to run for CA governer. And if you cant sign your name to a death warrant then go to New York where there is no death penalty. The people of CA have voted 3x to keep the death penalty and the next vote will be to get you out.

  12. This POS Gov is OK with murdering innocent babies, but is going to let adult murderers off the hook. Why do Californians keep voting for these Liberals. Every Conservative in the state needs to start voting or California will continue to spiral down. Gaslight Newsom is going to do whatever the Hell he wants as long as he’s in office. Californians who voted for him are making everybody who lives in this state pay. Thanks a lot!

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