Bill would eliminate death penalty in Nevada

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Legislation that would abolish the death penalty in Nevada was introduced Friday in the Nevada Assembly.

AB149 was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ozzie Fumo and James Ohrenschall of Las Vegas.

Existing law allows a death sentence for first degree murder with aggravating factors such as multiple killings among others.

AB149 would eliminate the language allowing imposition of the death penalty completely.

In addition, the legislation would reduce the sentences of the more than 80 people on Nevada’s death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

With Democrats solidly in control of both the Senate and Assembly, the measure has a good chance of drawing enough votes to be approved.

Once that’s done, it would be legally impossible to reimpose the death sentences on those inmates. That’s what happened when the death penalty was abolished by the U.S. Supreme Court but later restored in the late 1970s. The inmates who were removed from death row couldn’t be put back on the list for execution.

One long standing argument against the death penalty is the fact it requires numerous timely and costly appeals all the ways to the U.S. Supreme Court. That means years after the initial conviction before any inmate can actually be executed. Since restoration of the death penalty, the only inmates executed in Nevada have been volunteers who gave up further appeals and said they wanted to die rather than remain in prison.

AB149 was referred to the Judiciary Committee for study.


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