Governor Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty in March gave California’s abolition movement new energy.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” said Natasha Minsker, a political consultant and longtime proponent for abolishing capital punishment.
“Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are re- assessing their strategy and retooling their message,” said a recent SF Chronicle article. “The governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.”
Newsom’s moratorium provided temporary reprieves to more than 730 inmates who sit stationed on San Quentin’s Death Row. The moratorium also removed California’s recently revised lethal injection procedures.
Because the court had recently approved the state’s new lethal injection protocol, Newsom was faced with the reality of overseeing the executions of more than 20 inmates who had exhausted their appeals. The governor said he was not willing to let that scenario happen.
Prior to Newsom’s decision, no one had been executed in California since a federal judge ruled in 2006 that the state’s methods resulted in potentially torturous and painful deaths to condemned prisoners.
Newsom’s moratorium places California’s capital punishment system back into a legal standstill.
Following Newsom’s stand, the efforts of many activists have now been directed to the national stage, where the Trump administration is planning to resume capital punishment.
Three federal executions were scheduled for December before a judge temporarily blocked them. These would have been the first death sentences carried out by the U.S. Government in 16 years.