Gavin Newsom is expected to sign an executive order on the death penalty on Wednesday morning.
He said that roughly 60 percent of inmates waiting in the state to be executed are people of color while many criminals executed in the past year suffered from mental impairments, adding that in the past 45 years, 164 death-row inmates have been exonerated, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Twenty-five of the death row prisoners have exhausted all appeals.
"I do not believe that a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people", Newsom will say on Wednesday, according to prepared remarks obtained by the newspaper.
Newsom, who became governor in January of this year, said the death penalty "has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford expensive legal representation". Federal courts ordered a halt to executions until the California department of corrections and rehabilitation (CDCR) could ensure its lethal injection protocol was administered without risk of exposing inmates to excessive pain.
In some other states that have abolished the death penalty, the move away from capital punishment began with a governor who refused to sign death warrants, she said.
Execution chamber at the San Quentin prison.
California Governor Gavin Newsom will impose a moratorium on the state's death penalty on Wednesday, granting reprieves to all 737 inmates on death row and closing the state's execution chamber, an administration source said. "I visited prisons, met with formerly incarcerated people, and helped with cases of individual injustice - including two death penalty cases". "Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!"
He also argues that it doesn't act as a deterrent, wastes taxpayer dollars and is flawed because it is "irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error".
Newsom's action on the death penalty will no doubt place him in the national spotlight. At least 18 of the 25 people who were executed previous year had significant evidence of mental illness, intellectually damaging brain injuries or chronic childhood trauma or abuse, according to a Death Penalty Information Center report released in December.
"There is a lot of literature and studies out there that show that the death penalty is a deeply broken system for a lot of different reasons", the American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Shilpi Agarwal said.
This is a developing story. A judge is reviewing the latest execution protocol submitted by the state, and Newsom believed that its approval could come soon - clearing the way for executions to begin in California again.