FederalismDomestic Public PolicyAmerican Government

The Death Penalty in California

Posted on in Federalism · Domestic Public Policy · American Government

California governor Gavin Newsom (D) is granting reprieves to all death row inmates in the state and is shutting down the machinery of capital punishment. The governor claims that capital punishment is a racist and unequal system of justice.

Instructors, click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for The Death Penalty in California


“Gov. Newsom may prohibit new death sentences, setting up possible conflict with Becerra”

“‘I couldn’t sleep at night’: California Gov. Gavin Newsom explains why he halted the state’s death penalty”

“She got death sentence for murdering her kids. Her ex-husband is angry at Newsom’s reprieve”

“Gov. Newsom considering plan to prohibit new death sentences in California”

“California governor: Why I put a freeze on the death penalty”

“Tammy Bruce: California executes a “moratorium” on the death penalty”

“The death penalty is wrong, but it’s still the law in California”

“California’s death penalty, an appreciation”

“Gavin Newsom’s death-penalty overreach”


  • Writing: What actions did Governor Newsom take regarding the death penalty in his state?
  • Debate: The death penalty should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Poll: Do you agree with Sacramento County DA Anne Marie Schubert that the governor’s actions are “disgraceful” to victims of crime?
  • Short Answer: Does the governor’s actions make capital punishment illegal in California?

Current events quiz:

1) How many inmates in California have been granted reprieve from death row at this time?

a. 706
b. 737
c. 859
d. 937

2) Which method has California most recently used for executing criminals on death row?

a. lethal injection
b. electric chair
c. hanging
d. firing squad

3) How many people has the state of California executed in the last forty years?

a. 10
b. 12
c. 13
d. 25

4) According to the Los Angeles Times, the people of California have repeatedly voted to uphold the death penalty. (T/F)

5) The governor of California is the most executive lawmaker in the state, presiding over the state legislature and the Attorney General. (T/F)

6) One of Governor Newsom’s reasons behind halting the death penalty was that he could not stand the idea of executing an innocent person by mistake. (T/F)


1) B

2) A

3) C

4) True

5) True

6) True

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