"The intentional killing of another person is wrong", Newsom said.
How did we get here?
President Donald Trump, who has suggested expanding the death penalty so drug dealers are subject to it, lamented that California's "stone cold killers" will not be executed under Newsom's order.
Newsom has long opposed the death penalty, but has been wrestling with what action to take as governor.
Why did he do this? It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can't afford expensive legal representation. A new execution protocol is under review, but Newsom's order will withdraw it. And he's shuttering the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison that has never been used. It will not affect inmates' convictions or their imprisonment, other than eliminating their death sentences, the source said.
Human Rights Watch said that with the governor's decision, California continues a trend in the United States away from putting people to death.
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.
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The last time an inmate was executed in California was in 2006 under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Death penalty opponents hope California's suspension of executions will inspire other states to follow suit.
The death penalty spat was the latest between Newsom and Trump, who recently clashed over California wasting federal money on a high-speed rail project. At least 18 of the 25 people who were executed a year ago had significant evidence of mental illness, intellectually damaging brain injuries or chronic childhood trauma or abuse, according to a Death Penalty Information Center report released in December. In fact, the murder rate in states with the death penalty is consistently higher than in states without it.
There are now 737 people on death row in California, making it the state with the largest death row population in the USA -one in four people sentenced to the death penalty in the country are sentenced in California.
"Our death penalty system has been - by any measure - a failure", Newsom will say.
No condemned inmate faces imminent death.
Earlier this week, Jaime Osuna, a convicted murderer who was spared the death penalty for the gruesome torture and murder in 2011 of Yvette Pena, a mother of six - and who mocked her family in court - was suspected of murdering his cellmate, who was found dead over the weekend.