Newsom explained that he spoke to the president "because I wanted to extend to him my appreciation" for his visit to California areas hit by wildfires and to "express the fact that the people in those communities were grateful to him". "But most of all, the death penalty is absolute, irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error".
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.
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.
"I was a young man learning that life story", he said after signing the order.
"We can not advance the death penalty in an effort to soften the blow of what happens to these victims", Newsom said.
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The order will also immediately close the execution chamber at San Quentin and states that the directive "does not provide for the release of any individual from prison or otherwise alter any current conviction or sentence", according to Newsom's office.
California has not carried out an execution since 2006.
Nonetheless, Newsom's action is the latest indication of how California politics have changed around capital punishment. The last execution in California occurred January 17, 2006, when Clarence Ray Allen, 76, was put to death. After that, a future governor could decide to resume executions.
But her stance was derirded by those who support the death penalty, with some mocking her for weighing in on such a weighty topic.
Missing from that list appears to be the families of the victims of those on death row. Peterson was taken to death row at San Quentin State Prison after being sentenced to die for murdering his pregnant wife, Laci. Governor Newsom supported both initiatives. According to an NAACP-LDF report, of around 740 prisoners on death row in California, 36 percent are black, though black people make up less than 7 percent of the state's population.
California is one of 31 states with capital punishment. "Their system has had multiple innocence issues and is overrun with issues of racial and socioeconomic bias", said Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty in a statement.