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On Wednesday morning, Gavin Newsom is expected to sign a new executive order that will put in place an executive moratorium on the death penalty, meaning 737 inmates awaiting execution in California will not be put to death during the governor's tenure.

The president of the United States and the governor of California engaged in a game of "he said, he said" recently over whether Gavin Newsom's praise of Donald Trump included privately calling him "one of the smartest people I've ever met".

There are now 737 people on death row in California - more than in any other state, the governor's office said.

The lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison, photographed in 2010.

California has not executed anyone in more than a decade because of legal challenges to the state's execution protocol.

Mike Semanchik, managing attorney for the California Innocence Project - which works to exonerate inmates on death row - cheered the move.

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"Symbolically it is very significant", Robert Dunham, the executive director of the not-for-profit Death Penalty Information Center, told the Guardian.

While campaigning for a measure to repeal the death penalty in 2016, he told The Modesto Bee editorial board he would "be accountable to the will of the voters", if he were elected governor.

Newsom explained that he spoke to the president "because I wanted to extend to him my appreciation" for his visit to California areas hit by wildfires and to "express the fact that the people in those communities were grateful to him".

The last execution in California was when the state put Clarence Ray Allen, 76, to death on January 17, 2006.

Newsom has long opposed the death penalty, but has been wrestling with what action to take as governor.

The other issue in pay is the constitutionality of the governor's executive order.

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The Association of Deputy District Attorneys, which represents about 1,000 deputy district attorneys in Los Angeles County, called the decision "hasty and ill-considered".

More than six in 10 condemned California inmates are minorities, which his office cited as proof of racial disparities in who is sentenced to die. But most of all, the death penalty is absolute.

Brown said he was satisfied with his record number of pardons and commutations, though he never attempted to commute a death sentence, and with his sweeping changes that eased criminal penalties while reducing the prison population.

Since 1973, a total of 164 prisoners nationally - including five from California - have been freed after they were wrongfully convicted, according to "The Innocence List" maintained by The Death Penalty Information Center.

The last time an inmate was executed in California was in 2006 under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have already abolished capital punishment.

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