When you hear that someone is on death row, you immediately know they are a real criminal. No petty thefts, no fraud, not even manslaughter. These are tried and true murderers, those whose actions have proved that they have or at least had no respect for human life.
Consequently, they have been given what some would call the ultimate punishment: death.
Now, of course, everyone dies, so death in and of itself isn’t really the punishment here. Instead, it’s a promise of death earlier than expected, sometimes much earlier.
After all, if they will knowingly take a life, then it only stands to reason that perhaps they don’t deserve their own. A life for a life, so to speak.
But apparently, there are those who believe this punishment to be too harsh, even for the cruelest of prisoners.
Outgoing Nevada Governor and Democrat Steve Sisolak appears to be just such a man. During a Wednesday meeting of the state’s Board of Pardons, Sisolak requested that all death sentence inmates in the state be commuted to life in prison, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
According to the outlet, this is not a request for the board to individually look at each case and give a reprieve. Instead, it’s a blanket that would supposedly cover all death row inmates equally. Unfortunately, this means that each and every one of the 57 current prisoners with a death sentence could soon be seen serving life in prison.
It is noted that outgoing Oregon Governor Kate Brown, another Democrat, recently did the same thing in her state. In early December, all 17 of Oregon’s death row inmates were granted life, albeit in prison.
Now, it’s also important to point out here that several of Nevada’s 57 death row prisoners should already be dead and gone. However, more than a few have been delayed or postponed due to issues getting the lethal drugs to carry out the death sentences.
Like most states, Nevada executes inmates using a highly lethal drug that supposedly kills them quickly and without pain – an all too humane death in comparison to the lives they violently took.
Lives like a 91-year-old grandmother and her grandson who were hacked to death with a claw hammer by Thomas Richardson in 2005.
Or the life of a three-year-old girl who was stabbed to death by Beau Mastas. Mastas also left the girl’s 10-year-old sister paralyzed for life.
Then there are men like Jeremiah Bean, who went on a rampage on Mother’s Day in 2013, killing five innocent people.
Like the lives they so callously snuffed out, many would say that their lives, too, should be forfeit.
But apparently, Sisolak wants to make you, the taxpayer, feed, clothe and shelter them for the next few decades until they die of natural causes, such as dying peacefully in their sleep.
Of course, there are other problems with issuing life in prison as a sentence instead of death. For one, the victims and family members of the victims will now have a lifetime of knowing that their worst nightmare is still alive and technically able to do what they did again, should they, God forbid, ever escape.
Then again, for some, this isn’t so much of a concern. After all, serving life in prison could be a fate far worse than death. For example, one of Nevada’s more recent death row inmates actually committed suicide in 2018 after being told that his death date would again be pushed back.
There are also the seeming constant death sentence appeals that can be made, bringing victims back to court again and again to relive the whole trauma. This is especially common in states like Nevada and California, where the death sentence is really a sentence in name only. Nevada hasn’t actually put any prisoners to death since 2006.
And yet, for those like Sisolak, even that apparently isn’t enough.
Now, it is important to note here that Sisolak isn’t actually changing any laws with this move. As governor, he simply doesn’t have the authority to take the death penalty off the table for good. Only the state legislature does.
And so, for the time being, this is simply a one-time reprieve for those currently sitting on death row, that is if the Board of Pardons accepts his request.