Death Penalty Facts
While the death penalty is not handed down with great frequency in Nevada, there are certain circumstances in which it is available to judges and juries. When that occurs, it can take decades for the sentence to be carried out. The facts surrounding state-sponsored execution in Nevada include a number of realities of which many people may not be aware.
One of Governor Sisolak’s last moves as an outgoing governor in 2022 was to request the Nevada Board of Pardons to consider the commutation of every death sentence in the state to life without parole. That would change the lives of 57 inmates who are currently living on death row in the state. Before the Board could take up the discussion, however, a District Court Judge blocked it, noting that state law requires notice to victims’ families prior to any consideration of a commutation.
“Volunteers” Abandon Appeals
In the past 40 years there have been over 1,400 executions in the United States. Most of those involved individuals who had given up on appealing their sentences. Known across the legal community as volunteers, these inmates are finished fighting the system. One study of these individuals found that they tend to mimic those who choose suicide outside of prison, and are generally white, and experience mental illnesses and/or substance abuse.
The only method of execution that is legal in Nevada is lethal injection. The process entails the use of a drug sequence that is supposed to result in a fast and painless death. Sodium thiopental leads to unconsciousness; pancuronium paralyzes the involuntary muscles of the inmate; potassium chloride leads to cardiac arrest and death. Unfortunately, that does not always occur as smoothly in practice as it does on paper.
Problems with Anesthesia
In some cases across the country, prisoners were improperly anesthetized, leading to conscious suffocation and agonizing pain from the potassium chloride. It has been described as quite literally burning one’s veins enroute to the heart. Unfortunately, there are particular situations in which the likelihood of being conscious despite the use of anesthesia is more likely. One factor increasing this likelihood is when anesthesia is intravenously injected, as in executions, and another factor is when the person in question has a record of substance abuse—something not uncommon in the prison system.
Not Acceptable for Animals
The danger of “masked suffering” with the use of pancuronium bromide is so serious that the drug has been banned in the majority of states when animals are euthanized. A protocol that is wholly acceptable to kill humans, then, has been deemed too uncertain to use on cats and dogs in this country.
At Lobo Law, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are focused on providing a vigorous defense for clients because we believe that every human in this country deserves nothing less. To discuss your situation, contact our office today.