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Beyond the symbolism, why is Governor Newsom ending the death penalty in CA?




Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom speaks during election night event on November 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom speaks during election night event on November 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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The 737 inmates on California’s largest-in-the-nation death row are getting a reprieve from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who plans to sign an executive order Wednesday placing a moratorium on executions.

Newsom also is withdrawing the lethal injection regulations that death penalty opponents already have tied up in courts and shuttering the new execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison that has never been used.

California hasn’t executed anyone since 2006, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor. And though voters in 2016 narrowly approved a ballot measure to speed up the punishment, no condemned inmate faced imminent execution.

While the governor’s move is certain to be challenged in court, aides say his power to grant reprieves is written into the state Constitution and that he is not altering any convictions or allowing any condemned inmate a chance at an early release.

With files from the Associated Press.

Guests:

Dan Walters, long-time CA politics observer with CALmatters, a nonprofit public interest publication

Thad Kousser, department chair and professor of political science at University of California, San Diego