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Bill to repeal death penalty in Nevada appears to be dead

Sisolak says there is no path forward
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Posted at 2:47 PM, May 13, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It appears that Assembly Bill 395, which would have banished the death penalty in the State of Nevada, is dead.

The bill passed out of the Assembly in April.

PREVIOUS STORY: Nevada Assembly approves bill that would get rid of death penalty

Gov. Sisolak issued the following statement on Thursday afternoon:

“At this time, there is no path forward for Assembly Bill 395 this legislative session. I’ve been clear on my position that capital punishment should be sought and used less often, but I believe there are severe situations that warrant it. I understand there are those who will be disappointed by this outcome, however the process of determining which crimes are severe enough to warrant this punishment deserves thoughtful consideration. As Governor, I strongly believe that this discussion requires robust communication and input so that the voices of victims’ families and the advocates of the proposed measure can be heard. I remain committed to working on reforming the criminal justice system to ensure fairness in policing and sentencing.”

Speaker Jason Frierson released the following statement on Assembly Bill 395:

“We have been working through potential amendments that could restrict the application of the death penalty, but it has been a difficult task with all of the many considerations that go into these cases,” Speaker Frierson said. “While we are disappointed that we could not get across the finish line this session on AB395, we have to accept that there is a process and many of our priorities don't ultimately come to fruition. We will continue working on policies we believe are sound and continue working with our colleagues on meaningful reform to the inequities that exist in our criminal justice system.”

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro released the following statement on Assembly Bill 395:

"Over the past few weeks, we've had a series of discussions regarding a viable path forward on AB 395, and I appreciate the bill sponsor's willingness to work on potential amendments to restrict the application of the death penalty while balancing concerns about complete abolition. Unfortunately, we have not yet found consensus on the bill, and it is unlikely that we would in the remaining few weeks of the session. This decision understandably will disappoint many advocates, but it will also not change our commitment to moving other critical legislation this session reforming policing practices, the bail system, and other important aspects of our criminal justice system.”

The American Civil Liberties Union sent the following:

Statement by Executive Director Athar Haseebullah said:

“Nevada Senators and the Governor had a real chance this session to make history with Assembly Bill 395, but Governor Sisolak and Senate Democrats failed Nevadans. The governor’s statement that ‘there is no path forward’ is a major flip-flop on an issue that is literally a matter of life and death. The fact that Senate Democrats failed to even hold a hearing on this bill shows where they stand on racial justice and criminal justice reform. By failing to even consider how to advance this bill before dismissing it, the Senate and governor have emboldened government attorneys to seek the execution of civilians through our state’s racist, arbitrary, and expensive capital punishment system. Party leaders in the Senate and Governor’s office have shown that their commitment to meaningful reform is nothing but lip service. The people of Nevada are ready to end the death penalty. They deserve to have a voice, and they deserve true leadership in the Legislature rather than just political cronyism. This is an embarrassment.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Bill banning death penalty in Nevada on table for legislators as session nears end

ACLU of Nevada Policy Director Holly Welborn said:

“We are never going to stop fighting government sanctioned lynching in Nevada. We’ll continue to advocate for legislative reforms and we’ll litigate when we have to, but let’s be clear that the blame for any executions by the state moving forward will be on lawmakers who refused to end this broken system.”


“Sen. Cannizzaro and Governor Sisolak showed a clear disregard for the communities most impacted by our deeply flawed death penalty system. Silencing those voices by preventing a hearing on the bill shows their priorities are not aligned with the people of Nevada,” said Branden Cunningham, Community Organizer with the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

“Sen. Cannizzaro and Governor Sisolak have demonstrated a lack of concern about the unfair and racially biased application of the death penalty in Nevada. There are clear and profound biases inherent in the death penalty system, including racial biases, biases against the indigent and the mentally ill, and the fact that it has historically targeted those least equipped to defend themselves in court. The imposition of the death penalty is a lengthy, costly process that does not serve the well-being of victims’ family members, putting them through decades of re-traumatization,” added Nancy Hart, President of the Coalition.

“Every day the movement to end Nevada’s flawed and costly death penalty grows stronger,” said Mark Bettencourt of the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty. “Concerns about racial bias and the risk of executing innocent people are leading many Nevadans to the conclusion that it is time to end the death penalty. The Coalition and our partners will not rest until we achieve full abolition in Nevada and are beyond disappointed this bill did not receive a fair and public hearing in the Senate despite the ample time to do so.”

"It's clear to Restorative Justice International that it is time to end the use of the death penalty in Nevada and beyond. RJI is an global association and network of over 6,500 members and affiliates including victims of violent crime and advocates who support restorative justice policies to bring about needed systemic justice reform. For 13 years, RJI has seen increasing numbers of victims of violent crime support restorative justice as a means of healing, as much as possible, while seeking to hold offenders accountable. There is no healing for crime victims through the use of the death penalty," said Lisa Rea, a Nevada resident and President and Founder of Restorative Justice International.

There are dozens of people on Nevada's death row.

The Clark County District Attorney's Office has been pushing recently for the execution of Zane Floyd, who was convicted of killing four people inside a Las Vegas grocery store two decades ago.

His execution would be the first in Nevada in 15 years. The state came close to executing Scott Dozier in 2018. However, it was unsuccessful and he killed himself in 2019.