Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2024

Lawmakers advance bill to conduct audit on death penalty costs

Sun Coverage

CARSON CITY – Nevada hasn’t carried out an execution since April 2006, but the state Senate on Saturday passed a bill to conduct an audit on the cost of the death penalty.

On an 11-10 vote, the Senate agreed the legislative auditor must compare the costs of prosecution and appeals of capital cases versus non-death penalty cases. Republicans opposed the bill, which would look into the cost of defense lawyers, juries, psychiatric evaluations, appellate and post-conviction proceedings.

There has been at least one person on death row since 1979 and convictions of those currently on death row extend back to the 1980s. Through their lawyers, they have been pursuing a variety of appeals to overturn the death penalty.

The legislative auditor must examine the cost of an execution, including the costs of facilities and staff. The report is due Jan. 31, 2013.

Assembly Bill 501, as originally introduced, called for a two-year moratorium on the death penalty, but prison officials told legislators the drug used to inject inmates wasn't available. There also is a question on whether the death chamber in the Nevada State Prison is usable.

The state prison is to be phased out and officials said they would have to find another site for an execution if one is to be carried out.

The bill returns to the Assembly for agreement on an amendment.

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