California’s death penalty is irreparably racist, lawsuit contends

San Quentin Cell Block

April 9, 2024 – California’s death penalty law was declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in 1972 but was quickly reinstated by the voters. The statute survived initiatives in 2012 and 2016 that sought to repeal it. And despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on executions in 2019, the death penalty is still the law of the state, which has 640 condemned inmates, the most in the nation.

But the state’s public defender and civil rights groups say capital punishment, as practiced in  California, is incurably racist — Blacks and Latinos are far more likely than whites to be sentenced to death, and murder defendants disproportionately face capital charges if their alleged victim was white. And they are asking the state Supreme Court to remove the death penalty from the law books.

By Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle

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