Nevada governor requests board commute death sentences to life in prison

Nevada governor requests board commute death sentences to life in prison

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Governor did not support Legislature’s attempt to remove death penalty in 2021

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak requested the state’s Board of Pardons discuss whether to commute all death sentences during a meeting next week, his communications director told 8 News Now on Thursday.

The board comprises Sisolak, Attorney General Aaron Ford and the state’s seven state supreme court justices. It meets several times a year to discuss commuting the sentences of state prisoners who apply.

“On Wednesday, the governor requested an item be added to next week’s Board of Pardons commissioners meeting,” Sisolak’s communication director Meghin Delaney said. “The item would commute all sentences of death for offenders convicted and sentenced to death in Nevada to a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The governor believes this is a worthy item for the Commissioners to consider and will be voting in favor of the measure.”

While Nevada has the death penalty, a person has not been put to death since 2006. The Ely State Prison is the only state facility with a death row.

In April 2021, the Nevada Assembly voted Tuesday to abolish the death penalty and commute the sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole. At that time, Sisolak signaled he would not support the proposal, effectively killing it.

“The governor has always said that capital punishment should be sought and used less often, and he believes this is an appropriate and necessary step forward in the ongoing conversation and discussion around capital punishment,” Delaney said Thursday.

Nevada has put a dozen inmates to death since 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. About 60 inmates currently sit on death row. Currently, law allows a person convicted of first-degree murder to be sentenced to death.

Senate President Nicole Cannizzaro, a Democrat, works as a prosecutor at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. She did not support the measure last session.

With Republican Governor-Elect Joe Lombardo taking office in January with Democrats in control of the Legislature, with a supermajority in the Assembly, it is unlikely a repeal of the death penalty could become law this session.

Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown commuted all of her state’s death sentences this week.

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