On Wednesday, California governor Gavin Newsom suspended the death penalty, calling it a “failure” and reprieving state convicts awaiting death.

Newsom argued “a civilized society” should not “sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people”. He added death penalties were “inconsistent with [California’s] bedrock values.”

The Sunshine State’s death row is America’s biggest. Six in 10 of the 737 inmates sentenced to capital punishment are from ethnic minorities.

Forensic and biomedical experts have long insisted that the various chemicals employed cause tremendous pain.

The question of whether death by injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, or even unconstitutional torture, repeatedly inflames both public opinion and courtrooms.

Newsom argue the death penalty is no deterrent, “irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error”, and expensive. Running death row has allegedly cost California $5 billion since 1978.

However, in 2012 and 2016 Californians chose not to abolish the death penalty. In fact, in 2018, they voted to shorten the delay between sentencing and execution.

While Newsom’s moratorium has elicited praise, there has also been intense outrage.

Some victims’ families consider Newsom’s unilateral decision as a slap in the face of justice served. Many Californians highlight that, values aside, Newsom has betrayed voters’ will.

Should Governor Newsom sign an executive order without first consulting his electorate?

           

                   

   
Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.