Nevada Panel Hears Criticism of Death Penalty

CARSON CITY (AP) - A state panel has been told that only 8 percent of criminals sentenced to death in Nevada have been executed in the past 25 years, and almost as many condemned inmates die from natural causes as from execution.

The statistics were submitted by Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, who argues that the death penalty is far more expensive than keeping an inmate in prison for life.

Dieteralso told the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice that nationally two-thirds of death penalties are overturned on appeal, and inmates wind up with life terms. At the same time, he said the cost of the death penalty cases has escalated because of numerous appeals, which run 12 years on average.

Dieter noted that Nevada differs from other states in that almost all of those executed here have waived further court appeals that would have kept them alive.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)