One-on-one interview with California Governor Gavin Newsom

Newsom sat down with ABC station KGO to discuss his decision to halt the death penalty in the nation's largest state.
16:51 | 03/13/19

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Transcript for One-on-one interview with California Governor Gavin Newsom
Let's start with the idea of be revenues moratorium on the war. I just think it's the right thing to do I can square this fundamental fact that we have people on wrote today that this. That's hyperbolic who he considered just last year we had some sort 26 years. I was exonerated. And atlas in its. In 2005. Gentleman who's 26 years after coy who was found in this 164 people. And it is. Of course last thirty plus years in this country I cannot in good conscience sign off. On the death certificate that someone. I'm not sure that justice. Is not given. That there. The court's authority way to them it's one that we. Can't because this is coming. On me coming to my desks come in this office next month. I am being asked whether or not to extend the protocol. And support the injection. Execution protocol at San quite. Anticipating. That the final adjudication. On that protocol. Will allow California to move forward with a minimum 25. XUQ shoots in a short period of time. Consider their 737. People on death Saturday. If I wanted to go forward and of the people California. Demanded this we would need to execute one person. Every single day for over two years it we said we needed a week of breath between one execution annex that's one person. A week over fourteen years with the largest death row in the Western Hemisphere. I think it's time and the death penalty life about the possibility of parole. No one is. Not held to account but let us hold ourselves to account that telling someone they shouldn't kill and then killing. As a state sanction. Doesn't seem to me to advance justice. How much of this is a moral objection witnesses. With its moral. It's deeply immoral for me it goes back forty years this is something my grandfather pursued that they my father pursued. From the bench as an appellate justice it was a they cause of his life is something very personal or family. We are very close to an individual PP and Nancy. But for the grace of one juror. Would have been sentenced to death he served thirteen years only to find out forty years later. That he was set up for that crime and he was finally pardoned by then governor Jerry Brown. We don't think this we know. People have unequal justice in this country if you're black or brown you're more likely to be on Death Row Records of death for our people collar. And you know fact remains that just issues of race and ethnicity it's also the issues of wealth. Money drive so much of the determination. I've seen people and I do weekly pearls that are sentenced 57 years. Four attempted murder I've seen others that are coming up for parole that if served fifteen years for tumors and yet you have people on death row that are there for one. The disparities are job dropping north vs south the DA in Riverside vs DA. In San Francisco. I cannot square those disparities I cannot support system that so on equal and terms of its application of justice. Are you prepared for the push back from victims' families and I sat in this room with the victims. Lost their daughters. Lost parents. Lost Brothers sisters. Site here with victims who. Said that we have one duty in society news governor all people in that is to eradicate evil. That it was outraged that it was moving forward and destruction I had another mother. Who lost her daughter. And said you do not have the right. To take the life of another human be in my daughter's name. Killing another person will not bring back the only thing that matters to me that will never be brought back in that's not nineteen year old daughter. Good people who disagree is deeply held deeply personal but state sanctioned pre meditated killings. I just can't do it I can't sign those executions. We'll be from the Bay Area. It particulars sound. Mark classes term objectives and I remember I mean cops I grew up. With that tragedy I grew up remembering. The perpetrators are giving the middle finger in the courtroom disgusted and outraged. I have to temper that. Had to temper my own emotional attachment to that and the tragedy as a parent. What mark is going through. For the new my worst enemy what law. To suffer like Marc Klaas is suffering and so it it's a deeply challenging. And knowing his strong held position and I just hope he can respect a mine that's not just about a one individual about a system. That perpetuates injustice. Doesn't guarantee justice we can guarantee justice that's one thing but we have so much injustice. It is so racially skewed is just the fact in this country. That if you are rich. In guilty you are treated a lot better than if you're poor and innocent it's just a fact we have to own up to that until we address those fundamental facts. I cannot. Move forward with something that is irrevocable. And that is sentencing someone to death only to find out years later that we got it wrong. What does this thing been about California's legal system police and the courts have it's it it's about not just California's legal system about the American justice system. It is completely broken. And we all are perpetuating until we can fix that the systemic racism implicit bias the overt bias. They whims of prosecutors. Based on geography. Based upon. Will people the moment in fear and anger and anxiety. One prosecutor went districts and we move forward depth exact same crime literally in another jurisdiction we don't want fourth death. Until we address that. I don't think we can do what Saudi Arabia is doing due North Korea's do we do with Salma is doing. I think it's time to enter the rest the free world record as of the nations of the world have gotten rid of the death they hope people don't count life in prison. But they do not execute purses. Is there and go murder brutal for some Friedrich and I've read Monday's I've literally read over 200. Of the cases. Under thrown not making that up I think it's 225. I've got to go through the rest. He'll turn your stomach make you sick. The human beings are capable of such file violence genius acts and there's no sympathy I have no empathy for those that are guilty I really don't. The same time I cannot support premeditated state sponsored murder in return. If you rape we don't rape you back. I don't know some young girl passed in the day said when you're telling us that it's wrong to kill. Yet you're killing people. I mean I was wisdom from eight year old to a child I think we should listen to our kids. If life without parole becomes the standard or murders and first degree. Is making it means building more prisons I don't think it is because the fact is. Since we reinstituted the death Polly only thirteen people have been executed. Five billion dollars cost us five billion dollars. Hundreds of millions of dollars here. For what. Thirteen people been executed. 120. Have died of either suicide on death row or natural causes including someone just last week. So that it we have an excuse silence is 2006. To do it right into doing a constitutional manner it's nearly impossible to do. It just is because people have the right to appeal they have the right to new technologies DNA they have the right. To hear new evidence. And I just think we don't have the right to short circuit. That process of justice. And it too many cases we know we've done that and only to learn after the fact that we killed the wrong person. I'm not saying you are running for higher offers around the world will be but let's assume at some point you do you. Seen what's happened come on look about her record as DA in San Francisco being soft on crime whatever. Are you afraid of getting that label was well. I'm not a knock as a not soft on crime. You do the wrong thing you're going to be held to account I want swift fair but I want equal justice. I wanna do my best to root out the injustices of the criminal justice system that historically it's been skewed against minorities to people that don't have means. I really feel strongly. About dancing that type of justice but rather used the five billion dollars we've waste in the last thirty years. To go after those unsolved murders to give victims real closure and to keep people much safer but rather deal with underlying causes of these crimes. As we ultimately hold people punishment account. You can punish people you could hold them to account you can be tough. It's still not support a moral basis putting someone else to death. We're successor could reverses. Conceivably but I think. I hope I don't know we'll see. That what we're doing today. We'll begin a process anew conversation and debate in new. About the fact that California holds the distinction of having the largest death row in the Western Hemisphere. No other state has more people subject to death in the state of California. Goes deep to our values and also goes deep to this moment. We've got a president with respect we've got White House committed to the politics of fear committed to the politics of anger of grievance. That crates conditions and anxieties. That we all know too well. And I don't want to perpetuate that I don't want to participate in that this is also an act. At a moment. That suggests we're better than that we can rise above that and I hope in the process of engaging in this new conversation. That we will impact this debate in a permanent manner not just here in California. But across the country. So the court's objection was. You couldn't prove that lethal injection once. There wasn't some sort of pain and suffering it. The subject was going through that factor into your decision all what factors in his I have to take the baton of Governor Brown who supported the injection. A protocols for execution. That was coming to my desk literally in a few weeks early April. I if I supported that would line. I can't lie I remember respectfully for. You know back when same sex marriage. Was being defended by the Obama administration. With a brief that. Basically was a mirror to what the Bush Administration was briefing that all but equated homosexuality to be skelley. And I said to myself I know they know better you got to do better I don't want to be that I wanna do that. And this question is coming to my desk soon and I never anticipated can't lie. If you brought same sex marriage is really put your neck on the line that you see parallels with those I don't know. I'm not put in my finger in the wind. And the majority side apparently. On these issues. But I think I was elected for my judgment good people can disagree. I've been very consistent high I don't know how. Many times I. Come out my position and opponent was the only stay one official Democrat as lieutenant governor twice to come out. Against the death toll very vocal vary active in my opposition. If people knew what they were gonna get. Then I like it I respect that good people can disagree as I said I met with victims' families and I just I even said. One of the victims I said everything you said I haven't cannot respond because I you do not deserve a debate. And I owe it to you not to diminish. You were strong feelings good people can disagree on this respect that. But I have to make a decision when and how to use this hand any pain. To literally determine whether or not someone's life. We'll continue or not 25 people have exhausted all their appeals that's the first over 700. And they end up on my desk in a first. You promote accurate history a moment ago when he takes to Twitter you know him well area. What you see. It's another day in paradise so mean Orrin pleasure. Politics of fear. So. I imagine one of appearances. He's got to get back you know whether it's true you know we don't want these folks are getting out. Lucky it I hate the descent 120 people died on death row but they went on executed. Life we have the ability to hold people for life. We have that ability let's do it there are crimes we're so much never see the light today. I believe in redemption I believe in rehabilitation I do but there are certain crimes are certain acts. For whatever reason. God has put people on earth that do not deserve to come. Back alive. Alive and I. I just don't cannot sanction. He premeditated. Version of when that and Davis. So you make your home in the north but it. We're right by him Quinton did this interview in my district that I grew up in Iraq consequence. I grew up with friends from in city ended up in subsequent. And a Foster brother. From Orange City and opens an Aqua and I used to drive by as a kid. With my mom in the backseat gone what's going on right here at the gates of San Quebec remember it literally to del global the protests. Related to death company as a kid. That and I don't want to go back to those days. Can you imagine those are one off mirrors. Can you imagine I mean on CB people just imagine. A state California. Everything it expresses. That it values and what we promote. Executing a person a day for two years without a break. He even doing that we still have people on death row that we had and executed. You know if I were in the political opposition might try to find some way to link have a Newsom and rose Byrd Smith. Hey I I mean this and I don't. And people can roll their eyes people can dismiss it. A given moment in time I got to sell by and the future ex governor of California. I remember the minute I got sworn in as mayors of future ex mayor. Don't American. Rust I'm Roberta. And folks want to. You know the have a chance a few years to replace me they feel differently and I respect that and I have to but I have to live with myself. I mean this I'm dead serious good people in this Korean emphasis perhaps on that where it no pun intended there pun intended. I will not be able to sleep a night I'll look back of my life. Say that I took another life. I've never been that person. And up to it it was an academic exercise on the campaign trail. It was an academic exercise as mayor as an academic exercise for fifty years of my life. Now I'm entering a different face. It's raw it's emotional and when you have a mother. Of a victim saying you don't have the right to kill. In my daughter's name. Boy that's something. That's it's very happy. We have another question different subject if you westward and that's what you're so folks. I want to tell folks that this is not flippant this is not. A quick response. It's not political response assist. I deeply held belief system about racial injustice social economic injustice this is about a criminal justice system. That is skewed against poor people and people collar. This is about the irreparable nature of the decision executing at state sanctioned execution. There are innocent people on death row we don't think this we know this. In California I think it's better. That blinding 737. Human beings up. And having a pre meditated execution. On their behalf in their name I can't be part of that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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