WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) released the following statement today on California Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement of a moratorium on the state’s death penalty. Harris has opposed the death penalty throughout her career in law enforcement:
“This is an important day for justice and for the state of California. I applaud Governor Newsom for his decision to place a moratorium on the death penalty. As a career law enforcement official, I have opposed the death penalty because it is immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.
“The symbol of our justice system is a woman with a blindfold. It is supposed to treat all equally, but the application of the death penalty – a final and irreversible punishment – has been proven to be unequally applied. Black and Latino defendants are far more likely to be executed than their white counterparts. Poor defendants without a team of lawyers are far more likely to enter death row than those with strong representation. Your race or your bank account shouldn’t determine your sentence.
“It is also a waste of taxpayer money. The California Legislative Analyst’s office estimates that California would save $150 million a year if it replaced the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. That’s money that could go into schools, health care, or restorative justice programs. It is not a smart way to keep people safe.
“I believe if evidence proves one human being murdered another human being, there should be swift and severe punishment. But the death penalty in America has been imposed as a final punishment to many who were later found to be innocent. Between 1973 and 2016, for every ten people executed, more than one person has been exonerated. Killing one innocent person would be too many. It’s time to turn the page on this chapter and end a deeply flawed system of capital punishment in California.”