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

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.

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

1 COMMENT

  1. Michael,

    Scott Coffee—I think John Piro gave you my contact info.

    Good article. James Orhenshall also has pending bill in the Senate which you might want to reference, although Nicole Canizarro less friendly than Yeager.

    Really a missed opportunity here. I have been a PD over 20 years, the majority spent defending these type of cases—this was the best chance I have ever seen to get a repeal bill through, but politics scuttled the entire thing.
    Would love to provide more background on matter.

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