Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | 3:10 p.m.
CARSON CITY — Legislators expressed skepticism Wednesday that Nevada needs to spend $692,000 on a new death chamber at the state prison in Ely.
State Corrections Director Greg Cox conceded under questioning by a Senate-Assembly Joint Budget Committee that an execution could be carried out in the old death chamber at the closed Nevada State Prison in Carson City.
But, he warned, doing so might result in lawsuits over the adequacy of the chamber.
There are 83 inmates on death row, and there hasn’t been an execution since April 2006. “I’m not saying we don’t need it, but I don’t know if today is that time,” Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, told Cox.
Gov. Brian Sandoval has included $692,289 in his budget to retrofit the administration building at Ely for use as the death chamber.
Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, questioned whether there are any inmates close to completing their appeals process.
Cox said he must be ready to carry out the death sentence within 30 days after appeals are exhausted.
Horne asked if there was any decision from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the old death chamber in Carson City does not meet standards.
Cox said there was no court order, but he “anticipated a lot of litigation” if the Carson City site is used. The Nevada State Prison has been closed for a year.