Every single inmate on Nevada’s death row might soon get out of their sentence.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has requested that the state’s Board of Pardons consider commuting all death sentences to life in prison at its Wednesday meeting, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The parole board wouldn’t be considering individual reprieves under the measure.
Every single one of the 57 prisoners sentenced to death under Nevada law would see their sentence commuted in one fell swoop.
Sisolak’s reprieve follows a similar measure on the part of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who commuted all 17 death sentences in her state earlier this month.
Sisolak, also a Democrat, would have the distinction of overriding more than three times as many death sentences as Brown. Like Brown, he’s thwarting justice on the way out of the door of the governor’s mansion.
Nevada hasn’t carried out an execution since 2006. Problems obtaining lethal drugs have delayed justice, as well as legal challenges that have successfully delayed the executions of the state’s condemned.
The 57 inmates currently condemned on the state’s pseudo-death row didn’t end up there by accident, though.
Sisolak’s mass reprieve would prevent the legal execution of men such as Jeremiah Bean — who murdered five people in a Mother’s Day massacre in 2013.
Other killers, such as Beau Mastas, stabbed a 3-year-old girl to death in a murderous rampage that paralyzed the girl’s 10-year-old sister.
Thomas Richardson earned his death sentence through the fatal beating of a 91-year-old grandmother and her grandson with a claw hammer in 2005.
These men would spend the rest of their natural lives as annual costs to Nevada taxpayers under Sisolak’s reprieve. That’s arguably their current status, but the Board of Pardons could make it legally official on Wednesday.
One murderer who fought to waive his appeals in a bid to hasten his own execution was thwarted by a state judge in 2018.
He resorted to suicide when his date with the state’s execution chamber was delayed on the basis of Nevada’s lethal drugs of choice.
There are some legitimate arguments against the death penalty. Family members of victims are subjected to a seemingly endless process of death penalty appeals, which commonly drags out for decades.
Serving a life sentence in a high-security prison is arguably a fate worse than death.
Condemned inmates often wait such a long time for their date of execution that the taxpayer incurs nearly as much expense in paying for their incarceration as life sentence inmates.
Nevada’s death penalty has the distinction of being a sentence in name only, just like California’s.
And yet, the seeming inability of state bureaucrats to carry out a sentence duly issued in the name of the people is not a worthy excuse to abolish it.
None of this means Nevada’s death penalty is a matter reserved for the governor alone. The district attorney for Nevada’s Clark County has filed a petition to the state’s Supreme Court in a bid to block the potential reprieve, according to KSNV.
Sisolak’s mass reprieve wouldn’t change state law, by the way. A 2021 law that would take execution off the table in Nevada died in the State Senate.
A wholesale termination of the death penalty — rather than individual pardons for inmates — should be the privy of a state legislature, rather than the action of a single governor.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.