Calling capital punishment “inconsistent with our bedrock values,” on March 13, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an execution moratorium, signing an executive order. The order cited the numerous issues with the state’s death penalty, including the $5 billion spent to execute 13 people over four decades, wrongful convictions, and the overrepresentation of “people of color, people with mental disabilities, and people who cannot afford costly legal representation” on death row. Governor Newsom’s order unequivocally stated that he “will not oversee execution of any person while Governor," declaring that “our death penalty system has been — by any measure — a failure.”
The order provided for a temporary reprieve for all 737 of the state’s death-sentenced prisoners (including the 25 who had exhausted their appeals and were execution-eligible), as well as the repeal of California’s lethal injection protocol, and the closure of the “death chamber” at San Quentin State Prison. The $853,000 execution chamber, built in 2008, has never been used; the last person executed in California was Clarence Ray Allen in 2006. A work crew set about dismantling the execution chamber almost immediately following the announcement.