Governor Gavin Newsom's Death Penalty Moratorium Praised by CA Bishops

Bishops are praising the decision because they believe it doesn’t lower crime rates.

California’s Catholic bishops welcomed Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s March 13 decision to impose a state moratorium on the death penalty. Salvatore J. Cordileone, the Archbishop of San Francisco, stated on behalf of all California bishops, they appreciate the step taken, and the state has sufficient ways to defend public safety and human dignity without considering the option of meting out capital punishment.

Governor Newsom announced on March 13 his intention to issue a specific executive order which will remove the lethal injection protocol followed by the state. This moratorium, however, will not amount to anyone being pardoned or released from incarceration. The execution chamber located inside the confines of San Quentin State Prison will also be shut down. The San Quentin State Prison falls within the geographical limits of Archbishop Cordileone’s diocese. This facility is the oldest prison in California and is home to the state’s sole death row. It is exclusively for men and presently holds 737 inmates with the death penalty.

The Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose H. Gomez, supported Governor Newsom’s decision. He said the step is useful not only for California but also for the United States. The Catholic leader pointed out the death penalty has no effect on inhibiting crime, nor does it give “true justice” to the crime victims. Gomez and other members of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have long requested an end to the specter of capital punishment within the country. The Los Angeles archbishop said in his statement there were many irrefutable moral arguments to stop to the death penalty. Governor Newsom agreed. In his executive order the governor said the death penalty is not only ineffective and costly, it is also racially biased.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor and state attorney general, described the decision as “an important day for justice and for the state of California … As a career law enforcement official, I have opposed the death penalty because it is immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

Not all Californians agree with Governor Newsom’s decision. Todd Spitzer, the District Attorney of Orange County, told the media of his disgust. “I’m obviously disgusted. The governor does not have the moral high ground here. He talks about the morality of his decision-making. Well, tell that to the victims of these most heinous crimes committed by California’s worst murderers,” said Spitzer. He took note that Jerry Brown, the former governor, also is morally opposed to the death penalty, but did not try to stop executions in the state.

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