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California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

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California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

Court issues last-minute delay of hit man's execution

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A court delayed a hit man's execution Tuesday, more than an hour after he could have been put to death for killing a woman in a life insurance scheme concocted by her husband and brother-in-law.

The three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to issue a stay for Rolando Ruiz. The majority said they needed more time to rule on his arguments that a state-appointed lawyer in earlier appeals failed to identify his substance abuse and poor childhood as mitigating evidence jurors should have been allowed to consider before they decided on a death sentence.

Execution teams cannot begin a lethal injection procedure as long as appeals are pending. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons, who described Ruiz as "genuinely at a loss for words," said the prisoner "didn't seem like he had processed it yet.

"He apparently was expecting to go. He expected his execution to be carried out," she said.

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Source : CNN.com

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