Newsom calls attention to racial bias in death penalty trials

California Connection

This image made from video from the Office of the Governor shows California Gov. Gavin Newsom signing into law a bill that establishes a task force to come up with recommendations on how to give reparations to Black Americans on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif. The law establishes a nine-member task force to come up with a plan for how the state could give reparations to Black Americans, what form those reparations might take and who would be eligible to receive them. (Office of the Governor via AP)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Gov. Gavin Newsom called attention Monday to the unfair application of the death penalty to people of color during a case in the California Supreme Court.

Newsom filed an amicus brief during the case, People v. McDaniel, which involves issues of racial bias in jury deliberation and sentencing decisions, according to a press release.

The press release remarks on how Newsom’s filing is a first in California history, in which a sitting governor has drawn “attention to the unfair and uneven application of the death penalty.”

“Amid our nationwide reckoning on racism and historical injustice, the State of California is continuing to address the failings in our criminal justice system,” Newsom said.

“Since its inception, the American death penalty has been disproportionately applied, first, to enslaved Africans and African Americans, and, later to free Black people,” he continued. “With this filing, we make clear that all Californians deserve the same right to a jury trial that is fair, and that it is a matter of life and death.”  

Newsom’s brief discusses the historical context and events that led to the current, disproportionate application of capital punishment to people of color, particularly about how Black and Latino people are often excluded from juries, and when they are included, their voices are “diluted or silenced.”

A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.    

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