Ending the Death Penalty

LA County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia.

The Los Angeles County Public Defender strongly supports Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on executions in California, a historic step for criminal justice reform in the state. The governor’s decision brings California closer to ending the death penalty, a deeply flawed and racially biased system that fails to improve public safety.

Only last year, Vincente Benavides, a man who had spent 25 years on death row in California, was exonerated. Mr. Benavides had always maintained his innocence, and he had no criminal record or history of violence. An innocent man could have been executed. This is only one reason why the moratorium is so important.

California leads the way in criminal justice reform from juvenile sentencing to ending the war on drugs. It is time to lead on ending the death penalty. It is time for California to eliminate any chance of executing an innocent person, and it is time we stop spending over $150 million a year on a system that treats people differently based on race and income.

We cannot fully address the racial and income biases that plague criminal justice without addressing the role that the death penalty plays in devaluing the lives of people of color and the poor, and Gov. Newsom is moving in the right direction by stopping executions.