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Nevada Assembly repeals death penalty, sends to Senate

April 13 (UPI) -- Nevada's Assembly voted Thursday to abolish the death penalty, a bill that, if signed into law, would make the state the 24th to outlaw the punishment.

The legislative body voted 26-16 in favor of AB395, which, in addition to repealing the death penalty, would commute the sentences of those on death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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The bill now goes before the Democratic-controlled state Senate for a vote. The Senate is already considering a similar bill, SB288, which would not be retroactively applied to current death row inmates.

Seventy people currently sit on the state's death row.

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If a death penalty repeal bill makes it to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak's desk, it's unclear if he'd sign the legislation into law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada called the vote "a historic moment" for the state.

"For the first time a retroactive death penalty abolition bill has passed the Assembly, and we are one step closer to ending this racist, barbaric practice," the organization said.

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"Now the Senate needs to take heed. The fight is only just beginning, and we will not rest until this bill is sent to the governor's bill."

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Assemblywoman Annie Black, a Republican, voted against the bill and wrote an op-ed last week saying the focus should be on the victims.

"The worst part about the organized campaign to eliminate capital punishment for the most heinous murderers is how they show such compassion for the killer while conveniently overlooking what the killer did to get on death row in the first place," she wrote.

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Twenty-three states have abolished the death penalty, including Virginia, whose governor, Ralph Northam, signed the legislation in March.

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