FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, answers a question in Sacramento, Calif., Feb. 15, 2019.
FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, answers a question in Sacramento, Calif., Feb. 15, 2019.

U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the California governor on Wednesday for his plan to impose a state moratorium on carrying out death sentences against convicted killers.

Trump tweeted that the move defies voters and leaves friends and families of victims "forgotten."

In prepared remarks seen by news organizations ahead of the official announcement, Governor Gavin Newsom said, "The intentional killing of another person is wrong."

He cited cases of innocent people being convicted for crimes they did not commit, and sometimes even executed. 

Newsom also said cases involving capital punishment disproportionately affect minorities, the mentally ill and those who do not have enough money for costly legal representation.

The moratorium will involve an executive order to withdraw the state's lethal injection protocol.

A guard stands behind bars at the Adjustment Cente
FILE - A guard stands behind bars at the Adjustment Center during a media tour of California's Death Row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California, Dec. 29, 2015.

None of the 737 inmates currently on death row in California, the country's most populous state, will be released or have their sentences changed. California last executed an inmate in 2006.

Rights groups praised Newsom's decision.

Alison Parker, U.S. managing director at Human Rights Watch, said the governor "has taken a strong moral stand" and that the group hopes other states will follow his actions.

Aside from Trump, criticism came from some law enforcement organizations.

Michelle Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, called Newsom's moratorium "hasty and ill-considered," and said he was going against the will of the people of California.

In 2016, a ballot initiative that would have ended capital punishment in the state failed, while another to speed up the often lengthy process narrowly passed.

The death penalty has been abolished by 20 of the 50 U.S. states. Governors in Pennsylvania and Oregon have instituted their own moratoriums to stop executions.

There were 25 executions in the United States last year, according to data from the Death Penalty Information Center. Thirteen of those cases were in the southwestern state of Texas.