The executions of hundreds of inmates on the nation’s largest death row are being halted.
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced a moratorium on the execution of 737 inmates for as long as he is governor.
Currently, three men sitting on California’s death row were convicted for crimes carried out in San Luis Obispo County. Two of the cases date back to the 90s and the third was in the 1980s.
“The question really is, do we have the right to kill? Do we have the right to kill? That’s a deep and existential question… and I don’t believe we do,” Newsom said.
The governor’s office posted photos on Twitter showing equipment in the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison being removed Wednesday.
12:45pm: The death chamber at San Quentin. Closed. pic.twitter.com/0zK4UUItBG
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) March 13, 2019
Three men, including Rex Krebs, are currently on California’s death row for violent killings committed in SLO County.
“I am primarily saddened on behalf of the victims,” said SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow. “I want to make sure the victims and their family are not left out of the public debate that we have.”
Besides granting a reprieve to every condemned inmate, Governor Newsom also withdrew the lethal injection regulations that death penalty opponents have already tied up in court.
The order says no inmate will be released and no sentence or conviction will be altered.
Newsom joins governors in Oregon, Colorado and Pennsylvania who have imposed moratoriums on executions, all using executive powers.
“I’m concerned that Governor Newsom, while he promised during his campaign not to impose his will over the will of the voters in California, he’s now in a sense doing that,” Dow said.
Within the last few years, Californians voted to fast-track the death penalty process. They also voted down a proposition that would have repealed it.
California hasn’t carried out an execution since 2006.
There are currently 12 death row inmates whose trials were held in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.