On Wednesday morning, San Quentin State Prison, California’s largest, awoke to some surprising news. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order placing a moratorium on the state’s death penalty. While this does not end the death penalty in California (that can only be done by a voter referendum), it ensures that the 737 men and women on death row will not be executed as long as Gov. Newsom is in office.
In addition to granting a reprieve for death row inmates, he ordered the dismantling of the machinery of death at San Quentin—closing the old gas chamber and the newer lethal injection facility. Within hours, workers at San Quentin had removed the chairs, gurneys and associated equipment needed to carry out executions.