Las Vegas Sun

October 26, 2021

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

Death penalty is costly, ineffective

I have studied, researched and taught about the death penalty since 2009. The death penalty is not reserved for the “worst of the worst,” but instead for the most vulnerable. For example, people with severe mental illness and intellectual disabilities are overrepresented on death row. Most egregiously, death row disproportionately houses Black men, especially from low socioeconomic backgrounds who rely on indigent defense.

Black individuals make up about 40% of Nevada’s death row population, despite only accounting for 10% of state residents. Further, white victims make up more than 75% of murder cases that result in an execution.

There is little to no evidence that the death penalty serves as a deterrent. Nevada has not executed anyone since 2006, yet continues to pay for this racially disparate relic of lynching, which is more expensive than alternative forms of punishment. Indeed, a capital punishment case costs Nevada taxpayers around $1.3 million, compared with $775,000 in a murder case where the death penalty is not sought.

The demands for racial justice are loud and clear across the nation. Abolishing the death penalty in Nevada would serve as a meaningful step toward this goal.

The writer is an assistant professor at Nevada State College, where she teaches in the criminal justice and social justice programs.