News·3 min read

Daily Skimm: Death Row, Boris Johnson, and Rihanna

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at the US Forest Service Del Rosa fire station
Getty Images
Feb 1, 2022

Death Row

The Story

The nation’s largest death row is being dismantled


In 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a moratorium on death penalties — effectively hitting the pause button on more than 700 executions. And shut down San Quentin State Prison’s execution chamber. The last time the state carried out an execution was in 2006. Now, Newsom plans to put an end to California’s death row. And will be moving all condemned inmates to other prisons within two years — where the inmates can be held in solitary or disciplinary confinement if they pose a risk. 

Is this a first?

Nope. Two years ago, Oregon transferred its much smaller death row population to other inmate housing. And 23 states — most recently including Virginia and Colorado — have abolished the death penalty. But in 2020, the Trump DOJ resumed federal executions for the first time in nearly two decades — executing 13 inmates. And last week, SCOTUS cleared the execution of an Alabama death row inmate. Meanwhile, the Biden admin’s placed a moratorium on federal executions.

What are people saying?

Newsom reportedly wants to turn the San Quentin prison into a “positive, healing environment.” And a spokesperson for the corrections and rehabilitation department reportedly said it hopes to create “something innovative and anchored in rehabilitation.” Meanwhile, some victims and their family members might feel justice hasn’t been served. The debate comes amid broader concerns with death row, as racial disparities fill the criminal justice system — with Black Americans comprising 13% of the US population but 42% of death row inmates, according to one report.


The death penalty has long been a topic of debate in the US. And it’s an outlier among other democracies for its use of capital punishment. Now, some states are taking matters into their own hands. 

And Also...This

Where the party is over…

London. Yesterday, an investigation found that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office broke COVID-19 lockdown rules. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the gov said Brits were banned from meeting with more than one person outdoors. But, over a dozen 10 Downing Street staffers and the PM apparently said ‘rules schmules’ and attended a social event in the prime minister’s garden in May. Cue: Johnson in the hot seat for the “partygate” scandal. Now, a 12-page report found at least 16 parties with gov workers that took place during lockdown — including the BYOB backyard party and a birthday party for Johnson. Oh and that Downing Street likes to drink. A lot. The report said the parties were “difficult to justify” and that the office failed to meet the standards "expected of those working at the heart of Government." (Ouch.)

  • Party’s over: Johnson has apologized. But the opposition isn’t having it and is calling on him to step down. And not even his own party has his back.

Where there’s tension…

Canada. Yesterday marked the third consecutive day of protests in the country’s capital. Over the weekend, thousands of truckers and supporters self-coined as the “Freedom Convoy” gathered in Ottawa to condemn COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The protests grew to a rallying cry for an end to COVID-19 restrictions nationwide. Now, abandoned trucks have reportedly blocked entrances to Parliament and the capital. Some shops have been forced to close their doors. And some demonstrators have carried flags with swastikas, threatened citizens, and danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — which memorializes Canadian soldiers who died for their country. Authorities say they are investigating “illegal” behavior at the protests.

…Oh and meanwhile, Whoopi Goldberg is apologizing for comments about the Holocaust. Specifically, her assertion that the massacre was between “two groups of white people.” 

While January is over...

The time to talk about other people's bodies is, too. Over the weekend, “Bridgerton” star Nicola Coughlan asked people to stop sending her their opinions about her body. It comes as a range of other stars — everyone from “Yellowjackets” star Melanie Lynskey to Lizzo to Adele are saying ‘enough.’

Skimm More: We need to talk about fatphobia and diet culture.

What's a five-letter word for 'big spender'...

Flush. Yesterday, the New York Times bought Wordle in the low-seven figures. It must be nice.

When you lose your vaccine card… 

Definitely don’t make a fake one. 

While celebrating Lunar New Year

We’re thinking about good news. Speaking of, Rihanna.

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