Elected officials react to Newsom’s death-penalty decision

The Signal reached out to the Santa Clarita Valley’s elected officials regarding their reaction to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of a moratorium on the death penalty.

“The executive order also calls for withdrawing California’s lethal injection protocols and immediately closing the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison,” according to a news release from the governor’s office. “The order does not provide for the release of any individual from prison or otherwise alter any current conviction or sentence.”

Newsom’s statement cited a “failure” of the system and the discrimination in how it’s been utilized as the biggest problems, as well as its inefficacy:

“The intentional killing of another person is wrong and as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual,” Newsom said in the release. “Our death penalty system has been, by all measures, a failure. It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Most of all, the death penalty is absolute. It’s irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error.”

For reactions from local and state elected officials representing the SCV, see page 5.

Death Penalty: Elected Officials React

The following are reactions from the Santa Clarita Valley’s local and state elected officials to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of a moratorium on the state’s death penalty:

State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita:

“My thoughts and sympathies are with the victims of violent crime today. Gov. Newsom’s unilateral decision to place a moratorium on the death penalty is a slap in their face, especially after California’s voters reiterated their support for capital punishment a little over two years ago. If the governor believes the death penalty is wrong and should be abolished, he should put it before the voters, not unilaterally re-victimize innocent families and loved ones of the victim.”

State Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas:

Stern’s office did not respond to a request for comment or post on social media regarding the move, as of press time.

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita

“In California’s recent history, we have spent more legal system resources on death penalty cases than is reasonable, while at the same time not implementing the death penalty as a final result. So I support the governor’s moratorium and look forward to ongoing conversations with law enforcement and our district attorney in creating a roadmap for future penal actions.”

Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale

“Gov. Newsom just demonstrated his first questionable action to be a leader for all Californians by putting his own views above the will of the people. In 2016, Californians spoke loud and clear by rejecting a plan to repeal the death penalty by a decisive margin. It’s disappointing that Gov. Newsom would go back on his promise to honor the voters’ choice. It’s not just voters that Gov. Newsom is ignoring, but murder victims and their families as well. What do you say to someone who’s finding out from a press conference that their loved one’s killer won’t face justice? Death row inmates are not ordinary criminals. They are kidnappers. They are cop-killers. They are rapists who murdered their victims. These are the monsters Gov. Newsom is protecting.”

Los Angeles County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger

“The governor’s action is in direct conflict with the will of California voters, who passed Proposition 66 in 2016, which sought to expedite capital trials and executions.”

Santa Clarita City Mayor Marsha McLean

“My only concern always has been that if there’s a possibility that if a person could be innocent and then they were put to death — that would really be a tragedy.”

Santa Clarita City Councilman Cameron Smyth,

“Regardless of your position on the death penalty, this decision should concern all Californians and the precedent it sets. I believe any policy set in place by the voters should only be altered by the voters.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California (former attorney general of California, via Twitter)

“The death penalty is immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and proven to be unequally applied. I applaud Governor @GavinNewsom for his decision to put a moratorium on this deeply flawed system of capital punishment in California.”

President Donald J. Trump (via Twitter)

“Defying voters, the governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers. Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!”

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