Weeks after a drug expired and prevented the state from executing death row inmate Zane Floyd, activists are renewing their calls for clemency, upset that his case has yet to be discussed at a meeting of the Board of Graces on Tuesday.
Members of the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty were joined by supporters outside the Nevada Supreme Court buildings in Carson City and Las Vegas early Tuesday to say not only that the death penalty is carried out disproportionately to racial minorities, people with mental health issues and young men. , but also that it costs taxpayers millions of dollars.
Mark Bettencourt, project director for the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty, said for the fourth time the Board of Pardons ignored Floyd’s request for clemency. Nevada began its latest attempt to seek his execution last spring.
Bettencourt said it was best for Floyd’s team to be proactive, even though Nevada is unlikely to carry out an execution given the expiration of the drug used for lethal injections and opposition from drug companies. to provide drugs for capital punishment. He added that the state can seek the death penalty through other means, such as with a firing squad, which Floyd requested in lieu of the injection.
“There are a multitude of different avenues that could be taken. And so we are here today to do one thing that we know will prevent this execution from going ahead, which is to see the Board of Pardons commute Mr. Floyd’s sentence to life without the possibility of parole,” Bettencourt said in downtown Las. Vegas protest.
Bettencourt said there was no guarantee Floyd would be heard and that he belongs to the Pardons Board – which includes the governor, Supreme Court justices and attorney general and only meets a few times a year – to select him from a list of leniency applicants. The coalition has written letters to policymakers and has so far seen no movement toward hearing Floyd.
He said Floyd’s attorneys would prefer his case be heard sooner rather than later in case the execution is scheduled. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment Tuesday on why the petition was not brought forward for consideration. Bettencourt said if Floyd had been selected for a clemency hearing, he would have been notified.
“We are still receiving confirmation that the documents have been received but have never been advised of anything else,” Brad Levenson, Floyd’s defense attorney, said in an email.
Floyd, a veteran born with fetal alcohol syndrome and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, killed four people in a Las Vegas grocery store shooting in 1999. Bettencourt said Floyd, 23 at at the time, was remorseful and did not want to die at the hands of the state.
In addition to his mental illness, Floyd was battling drug addiction and had been under the influence, with an estimated blood alcohol level of 0.14% when he committed the crimes.
Bettencourt suggested that Nevada should redirect time and resources spent pursuing the death penalty to services such as mental health care to intervene before tragic situations occur.
“What we know in Nevada is that it’s not easy to get access to mental health care. It’s not easy to get the help we need,” Bettencourt said. .
Leslie Turner, head of the Mass Liberation Project, said the death penalty is an oppressive tool that survived chattel slavery in the United States and continues to perpetuate white supremacy nationally and globally . Nevada’s death row is made up of 74 inmates; 40% of them are black, even though only 10% of Nevada’s population is black.
“It’s really important that we make those connections and understand that we’re perpetuating the same things that keep oppressing us all the time,” Turner said.