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Lawmakers Want to End Nevada’s Little-Used Death Penalty

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two Nevada Democrats want their fellow lawmakers this spring to abolish Nevada’s death penalty, which hasn’t been carried out since 2006 and is likely to get rarer as the state struggles to replenish its supply of execution drugs.

Assemblyman James Ohrenschall and state Sen. Tick Segerblom have requested a bill that would end capital punishment and leave life without the possibility of parole as the state’s strongest punishment. The request is one of nearly 700 proposals listed on the Nevada Legislature’s website that are likely to become bills for the legislative session that starts in February.

“It’s crazy to send all these resources to the death penalty when no one gets executed,” Segerblom said in an interview Friday, citing the high costs of appeals for defendants sentenced to death. “Our hope is that we can educate people on what’s really involved and get rid of this thing that’s never going to be used anyway but is costing us millions of dollars.”

Nevada has 81 people on death row and no planned executions, although a prisoner named Scott Dozier submitted a request to a judge on Oct. 31 that his appeal process cease and he be put to death.

The state recently spent close to $900,000 creating a new execution chamber at Ely State Prison after its old chamber in Carson City fell out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But even with an up-to-date execution chamber, the state is unable to carry out capital punishment. One of the two drugs needed to create the lethal injection has expired, and after an exhaustive search this fall, the state has been unable to find a company willing to restock its supply.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval recently told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he personally wouldn’t propose either abolishing the death penalty or allowing an alternative method of capital punishment, such as a firing squad. His stance doesn’t preclude the Democrat-controlled Legislature from developing its own proposals, although Sandoval would still have veto power.

Segerblom said he’s unsure how many of his fellow lawmakers will be on board with his anti-death penalty proposal, but he said it’s time to try again with an idea that’s been unsuccessful in the past.

“You have to beat your head against the wall,” he said, “but sometimes you beat it so hard that you break through the wall.”

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