News Release

Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Welcomes Death Penalty Moratorium in California; Praises Governor Gavin Newsom

Washington, DC (Mar. 13, 2019) – Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom made history, signing an executive order placing a moratorium on the death penalty in California. This means that, for now, there will be no further state-sponsored executions in California, which has the largest number of people – 737 – on death row in the country. As of 2018, there were 2,743 people serving on death row across America. With today’s executive order by the California Governor, more than 25% of those individuals have been granted reprieves.

“Today’s action by California Governor Gavin Newsom is yet another welcome and significant step in the march toward nationwide abolition of the death penalty,” said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Drew Findling. “Time and again, the death penalty, as much of America’s criminal justice system, has been demonstrated to be racist, discriminatory, ineffective, expensive, and a stain on this nation. Never mind the retrograde rhetoric emanating from a certain corner of American leadership these days, the death penalty is absolutely terrible criminal justice policy, and provably so. And it is just plain wrong, as recognized by the basic human rights standards of the vast majority of nations around the world.”

By today’s action, California joins Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Oregon, all of which have instituted moratoria on the death penalty. Since 2007, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, eight states – Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington – have abolished the death penalty. According to Amnesty International, 142 countries around the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

NACDL is an affiliate of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. And NACDL’s long-standing position calling for a moratorium on and abolition of the death penalty in the U.S. is recited in this board resolution.

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Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.