Death penalty repeal bill won’t get a hearing, sponsor says

By: - April 9, 2019 1:41 pm
death chamber

Nevada’s execution chamber. (Nevada Department of Corrections photo)

death chamber
Nevada’s execution chamber (Nevada Department of Corrections photo)

Legislation to abolish capital punishment in Nevada won’t even get a committee hearing, the bill’s sponsor said Tuesday.

Without a hearing before Friday, the bill dies along with any hopes Nevada would end the practice of the death penalty any time soon.

“I thought the time was now and that it was at least the time to have a conversation,” Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo said.

Fumo said he was told directly by Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Steve Yeager that the bill won’t even get a hearing. “It’s kind of disappointing,” he added.

Yeager could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Assembly Bill 149, sponsored by Fumo and state Sen. James Ohrenschall, would have made Nevada one of 20 states to abolish capital punishment according to the Death Penalty Information Center — there are three additional states that have gubernatorial moratoria, which essentially has suspended execution without outright abolishing it.

Fumo said support for the death penalty had been declining over the years. Activists, such as those with the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty, have called for states to get rid of the practice saying it is unfair, has room for error and is racially biased.

Fumo added there are additional reasons the Legislature should at least discuss the possibility, given the growing number of people exonerated from death row — the Death Penalty Information Center has confirmed at least 165 cases in the U.S. — to the increasing costs of the practice.

A legislative study found seeking the death penalty is also more expensive and costs $500,000 more to prosecute capital cases regardless of outcome.

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues.