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Nevada State Assembly Votes to End the Death Penalty

On April 13, 2021, the Nevada State Assembly passed Bill 395. This bill, if it becomes law, will abolish the death penalty in the state. Some are saying this is a historic move, but the bill still has more channels to cross before it can be signed into law. Once a bill goes through the Assembly, it then moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee. When the Senate agrees on a bill, it goes to the governor, who signs it into law. If this bill passes, Nevada will be the 24th state in the Union to outlaw the death penalty. Inmates currently on death row will have their sentences changed to life without parole.

Arguments in Favor of This Bill

There are many activist groups across the country fighting to have the death penalty removed in the U.S. The Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty has been working to get Bill 395 passed, and they will continue to push until it becomes law. Many activist groups share the same criticisms of the death penalty.

They argue that instead of the death penalty bringing peace to a victim’s family, it actually makes their pain worse. Prison sentences can drag on, and the date of execution can be continually pushed back. Activists believe that families are left waiting for justice that sometimes never comes, or it comes too far into the future to matter. Inmates can grow old or even die before they are executed. Without the death penalty, advocates argue, victims’ families will know the fate of the convict beforehand. They won’t be dragged along, making the pain worse.

Many are also concerned about the wrongfully accused being put to death. Figures show that throughout the history of Nevada’s death penalty, more than 50% of death sentences were reversed. As our technologies and police methodologies improve, we see more and more stories of inmates who were released upon the discovery of new evidence. These stories sometimes involve convicts who were locked up for decades.

Activists are also concerned about a bigoted justice system. While the country continues to make strides, statistics still show that certain groups are more likely to be convicted of crimes and are more likely to receive harsher sentences. Concerns about systemic bigotry are amplified when the results are a matter of life or death.

Arguments Against This Bill

Every piece of legislation will, of course, have its detractors. The removal of the death penalty is no exception.

Many are in favor of seriously restricting death penalty sentences, but they still believe the death penalty should be an option. These advocates argue that execution should be reserved for horrifically brutal crimes. We have all seen news articles about violent acts that are difficult to even imagine. Many still believe that in those cases the perpetrator has forfeited their right to live, especially when considering how they took away someone else’s right to live.

Nevada’s current numbers support this belief. Only 7% of Nevada’s inmates are on death row today. Executions are rare in the state, as the last one took place in 2006. Those who think that death row should be rare can point to these statistics. They will argue that having a death penalty option does not mean that the state will start brutally, flippantly using it on its inmates.

The Law Office of David R. Fischer will be keeping a close eye on this bill as it moves along the chain. We believe in defending the rights of Nevada citizens, and we will help make sure that people are appropriately represented if the laws change. If you need help with post-sentencing issues, call us today at (702) 866-9864, or contact us online.

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