A short time ago, we wrote about California Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive moratorium on death penalty executions across the state. At the time, we pointed out that voters approved Proposition 66, which kept the death penalty in place in 2016. Prop. 66 also included a provision that was meant to expedite the appeals process for death penalty convictions.
It’s been almost a year since Gov. Newsom declared the moratorium. Nevertheless, there continue to be death penalty sentences in counties throughout the state. In 2019, there were two new death penalty sentences in Riverside County alone.
It turns out that Riverside county, which borders Orange County, has a history of being a leader in new death sentences imposed in the United States, Desert Sun reports. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center released a report in December showing that Riverside County judges ordered sixteen new death sentences since 2015.
Execution Moratorium’s Impact on the Criminal Justice System
The Riverside County District Attorney, Mike Hestrin, continues to seek death penalty convictions and is not swayed by the moratorium, according to the article. DA Hestrin argues that Gov. Newsom lacks the authority to halt executions and says that the governor is trying to nullify the death penalty statute.
“The governor doesn’t have the power to undo the law with the stroke of a pen,” said Hestrin.
Death sentences are a moral problem for many Americans, naturally. The U.S. is one of the last western democracies that still utilize what some call a draconian, if not barbaric, method of dealing with criminals. Proposition 66 was narrowly approved in 2016, which is evidence that fewer Californians are in favor of capital punishment.
It’s worth noting that the last time a death penalty sentence was carried out in California was on January 17, 2006, thirteen years before Newsom put a halt on executions. As it stands now, 21 states have done away with capital punishment.
Riverside County Public Defender Steven Harmon thinks that Newsom’s moratorium is a chance for both lawmakers and citizens to reflect on the death penalty, the article reports. Harmon has opposed the use of capital punishment for his entire career as criminal defense attorney—47 years.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
Attorney Ronald Brower can advocate for you or a loved one in the criminal justice system. He has been a practicing criminal defense lawyer for more than three decades, which means he has the experience to help you achieve a favorable outcome. Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower for a consultation at 714-997-4400.