By Lily Bohlke
The Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty is urging state legislators to use their 2021 session to end state-level executions.
And members of the U.S. House say they’ll act to end the federal death penalty, after three federal executions last week, all in Indiana, of Lisa Montgomery, Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs.
Nevada still allows capital punishment, but hasn’t carried out an execution since 2006.
“We stand opposed to the death penalty for many, many reasons.”
Father Chuck Durante, St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral
Father Chuck Durante, rector of Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno, called the practice “barbaric” and said it wastes government resources. He added rarely does an execution truly provide closure for a victim’s family.
“We stand opposed to the death penalty for many, many reasons,” Durante explained. “The dignity of human life being the most obvious and primary, but the racial inequity, the economic inequity, the geographic inequity.”
In the weeks leading up to their executions, Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs both tested positive for COVID-19, and they weren’t the only ones. Prisons across the country have been epicenters for the virus, with incarcerated people unable to take many key safety precautions.
Pastor Ender Austin III, southern Nevada regional director for the group Faith in Action Nevada, pointed to research that shows if someone kills a white person, they’re much more likely to be sentenced to death than if they kill a Black person.
“The reason that’s a challenge for us is that if we really have equal protection under the law, if we really live in a state, in a society, in a country, where everybody matters, my mentor teaches us on this mantra, ‘Everybody matters to God, comma, everybody,'” Austin asserted.
The Trump administration’s Justice Department carried out last week’s three executions just days before President-Elect Joe Biden takes office.
Biden has said he aims to work with Congress to end the federal death penalty, and hopes that states will follow.
Public News Service – NV
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