Death isn’t always the best answer

Assemblyman-Osvaldo-Fumo

Editorial: By Las Vegas Tribune Staff

Senator Jame Ohrenschall
Assemblyman-Osvaldo-Fumo

It has been always the contention of this newspaper that anyone convicted of a crime horrendous enough to deserve the death penalty should not be given the death penalty because if in effect, the death penalty works, they will not be suffering enough for their crime; a hard labor prison term for a crime that in the eyes of some may deserve the death penalty is more effective and the risk of killing a possible innocent human is lessened.
Nevada State Senator James Ohrenschall and Assemblyman Osvaldo Ozzi Fumo had introduced Assembly Bill 149 that will eliminate the death penalty in the State of Nevada.
On June 30, 2004 Jace Radke wrote in the Las Vegas Sun about Roberto Miranda, a Black Cuban man who spent 14 years on Nevada death row for a crime he did not commit, reporting another judicial injustice of the state where the prosecutors had to win at all costs and defense attorneys are afraid to face prosecutors.
Represented by an attorney who had passed the state bar only months before, Roberto Miranda was convicted of killing a man and sentenced to death in 1982.
Recently the State of Nevada spent an unknown amount of money, time, effort and resources fighting the execution of Scott Dosier who wants to die, but the state refused to use the injection that the Department of Prisons purchased because it may not be of the quality necessary to kill someone.
In August 2018, the National Registry of Exonerations passed a milestone: The number of “years lost” that exonerated defendants spent in prison for crimes they did not commit exceeded 20,000. This short report examines years lost by race and crime, and also whether those exonerated were compensated for those years.
A Nevada man was released from death row last week after nearly 29 years in prison for a murder that evidence now shows he did not commit.
Ha’im Al-Matin Sharif (AKA Charles Robins) was convicted in 1988 and sentenced to death for the murder of his girlfriend’s 11-month-old baby girl. A medical examiner testified the child had been physically abused and ultimately murdered. The child’s mother testified that Sharif physically abused the child.
After many appeals in 2011, the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the District of Arizona began a review of his case. Attorney Cary Sandman noticed that the child’s injuries were consistent with Barlow’s disease (infantile scurvy). Medical experts reviewed the evidence and agreed. Sandman also discovered some of the child’s injuries occurred before Sharif was living with the child’s mother.
Sandman then interviewed the child’s mother, who said her testimony was false and she had never seen Sharif abuse the child. She later recanted her testimony, saying she agreed to lie in court after police threatened to take away her surviving children.
After an evidentiary hearing and a statement from another doctor agreeing the baby died from Barlow’s disease, prosecutors began negotiations for a deal. In the end, Sharif agreed to an amended conviction of second-degree murder and a reduction of his sentence to time served. Had he chosen to go back to trial, he could face more years of incarceration and possibly another death sentence.
It seems like most exonerated Nevada cases have taken place outside the state of Nevada or by national organizations that assume the cases from Nevada with outside legal representation and that is probably why the state of Nevada imposes the requirement that a local attorney sit by the outside attorney to make the Nevada Bar member look efficient and good in the eyes of the beholders.
According to the Vera Institute of Justice, incarceration costs an average of more than $31,000 per inmate, per year, nationwide. In some states, it’s as much as $60,000. Taxpayers foot the bill for feeding, housing and securing people in state and federal penitentiaries.
The murder rate in states that do not have the death penalty is consistently lower than in states with the death penalty.
We proudly support Senator James Ohrenschall and Assemblyman Osvaldo Ozzi Fumo’s Bill 139 and hope that it passes the Nevada Senate and Assembly.
The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at the University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989 — cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. The Registry also maintains a more limited
database of known exonerations prior to 1989.

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