California's 737 death row inmates are set to get a reprieve Wednesday when Gov. Gavin Newsom makes the state's unofficial moratorium on executions official. "The intentional killing of another person is wrong and as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual," the governor is expected to say in prepared remarks, per USA Today. He plans to sign an executive order that will grant a reprieve to the condemned inmates, withdraw the state's lethal-injection protocol, and close the never-used new death chamber at San Quentin State Prison, reports the AP.
The death penalty is a "failure" that "has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford expensive legal representation," Newsom will say. California has more inmates on death row than any other state, but it hasn't executed anybody since 2006. Since capital punishment was reinstated in 1978, the state has executed 13 inmates, while 79 condemned prisoners have died of natural causes and 26 have taken their own lives. Death penalty supporters, who note that California voters approved a measure to speed up executions in 2016, say Newsom is going against the will of the people and predict legal challenges, the New York Times reports. (Read more death penalty stories.)