As We See It

Is it time for Nevada to give up the death penalty?

Should Nevada be the 17th state to outlaw capital punishment?
Virginia Department of Corrections/AP

When the Review-Journal reported last week that Clark County prosecutors would not seek the death penalty for Jason “Blu” Griffith in the murder of Fantasy dancer Deborah Flores Narvaez, the predictable firestorm erupted.

“I guess it wasn’t monstrous enough,” said Flores Narvaez’s sister Celeste of the killing, after which Griffith allegedly dismembered Deborah’s body and hid it in tubs filled with cement. “If ever a case deserved the death penalty it’s this one,” commented user "hendnv" online. “Just what do you have to do these days to get the death penalty?” questioned "VegasDude2010."

Here’s an answer, though likely not the one VegasDude was looking for: Stay out of Mexico. And Canada. And while you’re at it, avoid Rwanda, Nicaragua, Haiti, South Africa and Poland. In all, 139 countries (out of 195 in the world, depending on who’s counting) have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Of all Western industrialized nations, the United States stands out as the only one to still have capital punishment on the books, and even here its popularity is dwindling, with Illinois set to become the 16th state without the death penalty when new legislation goes into effect July 1.

Facing statistics like those—and research that suggests capital punishment has no deterrent effect and that prisoners sentenced to death cost states millions of dollars more than those sentenced to life without parole due to the lengthy appeals process, the question isn’t what you have to do to get the death penalty in Nevada; it’s why the hell it’s still an option at all.

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