California’s new governor signs moratorium on executions
SACRAMENTO — The 737 inmates on the nation’s largest death row got a reprieve from California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday when he signed an executive order placing a moratorium on executions.
Newsom also withdrew the lethal injection regulations that death penalty opponents already have tied up in courts and moved to shutter the new execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison that has never been used.
“It’s a very emotional place that I stand,” Newsom told reporters after signing the order. “This is about who I am as a human being, this is about what I can or cannot do; to me this was the right thing to do.”
Newsom, a Democrat, called the death penalty “a failure” that “has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation.” He also said innocent people have been wrongly convicted and sometimes put to death.
He said his views on the death penalty were first shaped 40 years ago when he learned of his grandfather’s and father’s advocacy for a wrongfully convicted man.
“I was a young man learning that life story,” he said after signing the order. “I’ve gotten a sense over a course of many, many years over the disparities in our criminal justice system.”
President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that voters don’t support Newsom’s decision.
“Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!” Trump wrote.
California hasn’t executed anyone since 2006, when Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor. And though voters in 2016 narrowly approved a ballot measure to speed up the punishment, no condemned inmate faced imminent execution.
come in and meet with independent study teachers and take tests, but stressed that nothing is certain yet.
“We will do our best to provide more than that. We need a longer day for students with babies or more needs, two to three days, but I can't guarantee that,” Crater said.
Another concern with the move is student transportation, and Crater said she is working with the Assistant Superintendent of Business services to come up with solutions. After announcing the two pieces of bad news, an emotional Crater reassured parents she would do all she could to maintain the positive learning experience for their children.
“I'm looking at all these worried faces, and I just want to do my best to assure you that I'm going to work as hard as I can to provide great services to those students who are returning in the fall,” said Crater.
Crater then opened up the meeting for questions. She spoke with someone in the audience who asked about the Butterfield site, and Crater replied that the charter for Butterfield has been amended for students from eighth through grade 12, so they would be able to provide services for all students in middle school. She said all students would be provided services, even home school students.
One student said she had been going to Prospect since she was pregnant, and her daughter is now in school there, and she asked Crater about what will be provided at Butterfield.
“When it comes to our teen parents we will provide as much child care as possible, the question is how much we can provide, and what we can provide,” said Crater. “We will make sure we will customize for each individual student for emotional reasons.”
Another student in the audience, Samantha Beltran, said Prospect has a lot of success stories, and she was concerned about not keeping teachers together with students “who've come to depend upon them, with whom they've had strong trusting relationships and special bonds.”
Crater stressed that the school psychologist, the nurse, and all the other specialized personnel would be in one place, and said that Prospect is an older building. She said the Butterfield building will be remodeled, but having everyone at one location would benefit everyone.
Another staff member said, “It's like moving home. It weird at first, but you get used to it.”
“We will do the best we can,” Crater said, “But it's sad.”
PUSD Superintendent gave more details on the evening's announcements, noting that retirements and a downturn in district enrollment have impacted the cost-cutting decisions.
“A big piece is that Prospect is not as big a facility as Butterfield, and Butterfield is newer, there is a cafeteria and other amenities,” said Nelson.
He added that the Prospect site is a city facility, and it might become a community center. The city also wants to utilize the land behind Prospect Education Center.
“We want to thank you for showing such passion and compassion for the school,” said Nelson. “We are trying to do the best, and we are grateful for everything the staff have done at Prospect.”
“And we are doing our best to figure out how we can provide the best services for you,” added Crater.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the executive order placing a moratorium on the death penalty at his Capitol office Wednesday, March 13, in Sacramento, Calif.