Newsom signed an executive order granting reprieves to death row inmates and closing the state's execution chamber.
The death penalty is an archaic and unjust system, disproportionately condemning people of color and those with disabilities.
About a quarter of America's death-row prisoners are in California, the country's most populous state. As for Newsom, highlighting the issue could elevate his national profile, but could also ignite a firestorm of protest by crime victim advocates, President Trump and others.
ASSOCIATED PRESSCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom. A new execution protocol is under review, but Newsom's order will withdraw it.
Death penalty opponents hope California's suspension of executions will inspire other states to follow suit. Newsom said that none of the inmates now on death row with have their sentences commuted, but will possibly be transferred back into the state's general prison population.
"I do not believe that a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people", Newsom said in prepared remarks.
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There hasn't been an execution in California since 2006, amid a years-long legal battle over the state's drug cocktail.
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Flanked by Democratic party leaders, Newsom said he made a decision to take the move because elements of the death penalty, stalled in California since 2006, were suddenly moving forward on his watch.
Among those waiting on death row is Luis Bracamontes, an illegal immigrant who killed two law enforcement officers and said in court, "The only thing I [expletive] regret is I only killed two;" and Alberto Hinojosa Medina, who stabbed 21-year-old UCLA student Andrea Del Vesco 19 times in her apartment in Westwood in 2015 before setting the apartment on fire.
Newsom has always been a vocal opponent of the death penalty, stating the practice discriminates against people of color, mentally ill people and poor people, and that it has put to death those wrongfully convicted of crimes.
Governor Newsom took office in January and a death penalty moratorium was one of his campaign pledges.
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February's increase was dramatically smaller than January's revised gain of 311,000 and December's revised 227,000. The decline in the so-called U6 rate was the largest since the BLS launched the series in 1994.
Newsom also argues the criminal justice system is susceptible to error, citing a Los Angeles Times report that 164 condemned prisoners nationwide were wrongly convicted and have been freed from death row since 1973.
There are now 24 inmates on death row who have run out of appeals to their sentence.
"Symbolically it is very significant", Robert Dunham, the executive director of the not-for-profit Death Penalty Information Center, told the Guardian.
In 2014, support for the death penalty among Democrats dropped under 50 percent in Pew's polling, the first year in which that happened.
"I've done what I want to do", Brown said shortly before leaving office, defending his decision not to endorse death penalty repeal efforts in 2012 and 2016.
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The report by Statistics Canada also shined a spotlight on the participation rate of women in the workforce. In an economy with more than half a million vacant jobs, many seem to be finding work.