SACRAMENTO – Last night, news broke that California Governor Gavin Newsom is planning to announce a moratorium on executions in the state.
The following statement can be jointly attributed to the three executive directors of the California ACLU affiliates: Abdi Soltani (Northern California), Hector Villagra (Southern California) and Norma Chávez Peterson (San Diego & Imperial Counties):
Governor Newsom’s pending announcement marks a watershed moment in the fight for racial equity and equal justice for all. We commend Governor Newsom for exercising leadership and acknowledging that California’s death penalty is biased and broken beyond repair.
For decades now, California has propped up a costly, flawed death penalty system that has failed to deliver on its promise of justice and puts the lives of innocent people at risk.
In recent years, five people have been exonerated in California, including a man who served 25 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. We do not know how many other innocent people currently sit on death row.
We do know that race plays a dangerous and inappropriate role in decisions about who is sentenced to death in California. A statewide study found that in cases where victims were white, defendants were more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death than in cases where the victims were Black and four times as likely to be sentenced to death than in cases where the victims were Latino.
There is no doubt that the death penalty is rooted in this country’s legacy of racism. A moratorium on executions in California is a significant step toward ensuring our state’s justice system is fair, racially equitable and truly just.”