The governor of California has suspended the death penalty, at least for the time he is in office. Currently, there are 737 inmates on death row in California. This is the largest amount of prisoners on death row for any state in the country. The prisoners will not be executed on death row during the governor’s term. The method of killing inmates, lethal injection, has been eliminated. In addition, the execution chamber has been shut down in San Quentin Prison.California has not executed a person since 2006.
Governor’s Reasons to Ban the Death Penalty
California Governor Newsom states the outdated death penalty discriminates against defendants with mental illness, of low socioeconomic class and minorities. In addition, the death penalty costs millions in tax payer dollars. The justice system which is responsible for implementing the death penalty is flawed and far short of being perfect. In California, a defendant was found to be innocent last year after 25 years on death row.
There are 20 other states that have abolished the death penalty. The Washington Supreme Court recently found the death penalty to be unconstitutional. Michigan itself abolished the death penalty in 1847.
ArborYpsi Law Take Aways
Capital punishment is an outdated policy. Unfortunately, many defendants have been wrongfully executed and proven innocent after their deaths. Others may have spent decades on death row before evidence such as DNA provided exoneration. Michigan is considered the first government in the English speaking world to abolish the death penalty. Other states are catching up. The death penalty is most often applied to minorities and those with mental illnesses. It is wrong to have a policy in place that targets minorities and the mentally ill especially when the many of them are wrongfully convicted. The California governor made the right call in suspending the death penalty in his state. Hopefully future governors will take similar action or the California legislature takes action.
Sam Bernstein is an Ann Arbor lawyer who focuses on criminal defense.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
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