Nevada Legislature committee votes to abolish death penalty

Overhead view of the Nevada Assembly on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 during the fifth day of the 32nd Special Session of the Legislature in Carson City.

Overhead view of the Nevada Assembly on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 during the fifth day of the 32nd Special Session of the Legislature in Carson City.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee on Friday called for passage of a number of major changes to criminal law, including abolishing the death penalty in Nevada.
In addition to removing capital punishment going forward, AB395 lifts the death sentence from the more than 70 inmates currently on Nevada’s death row, converting their sentence to life without the possibility of parole.
For a variety of reasons including an inability to get the drugs for lethal injection, Nevada hasn’t executed anyone for more than a decade.
There was no discussion during the work session and all six Republicans on the 15-member panel voted against the bill.
In addition, the committee voted to amend and pass AB341, which would legalize cannabis consumption lounges in Nevada. The bill creates two kinds of lounges where patrons could consume cannabis products: those next door or within an existing licensed dispensary and those independent of a dispensary.
Again, the bill was opposed by all six GOP members of Judiciary.
The committee approved AB243, a measure designed to reduce or eliminate racial bias in charging criminal defendants. There was testimony during the hearing that people of color face disproportionately heavier charges for alleged crimes than whites. The so-called “race blind” charging statute was again opposed by the Republican members.
AB251 would require a peace officer to let a child defendant consult with a parent, guardian or lawyer before an in-custody interrogation. Opponents in law enforcement said that just isn’t practical in certain situations. AB132 would require an electronic recording of any interrogation of a suspect under the age of 16. Republicans P.K. O’Neill and Jim Wheeler voted against the measure. Those measures were also approved by the committee.
AB116 converts traffic offenses that are currently all criminal offenses to civil infractions that would be treated as a citation rather than an arrest. It exempts offenses such as DUI where a specific criminal penalty is on the books.
Assemblywoman Alexis Hansen, R-Sparks was among those who questioned the fiscal impact that could have on local governments. Sponsor Rochelle Nguyen, D-Las Vegas, said there will have to be language to ensure that the fines and fees money stays with the courts so local courts don’t take that financial hit.
The Assembly Government Affairs Committee also approved several bills involving law enforcement as the committee passage deadline loomed this week.
AB186 sought by police unions would ban imposition of ticket and arrest quotas for officers and prohibit the use of those numbers in evaluating officers.
AB268 would prohibit the use of deadly force against some one who is not a danger to anyone except himself.
AB315 would require police agencies to provide police and fire personnel with counseling and other mental health/psychological help and AB304 would provide police with continuing education on subjects including mental health, de-escalation, profiling, human trafficking and firearms.
All those bills go to the Assembly floor for a vote.

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