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Nevada Could Turn Its Current Execution Chamber Into A Tourist Attraction

“Even if we did have tourists, we’d shut them down several weeks prior, because it is still an active execution chamber. We want to be, and we will be, respectful of that,” the bill’s sponsor said.

Last updated on May 20, 2015, at 3:09 p.m. ET

Posted on May 19, 2015, at 5:50 p.m. ET

The execution chamber at the Nevada State Prison in July, 2002.
Cathleen Allison / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The execution chamber at the Nevada State Prison in July, 2002.

The next museum that could be coming to Nevada: the prison where the state performs executions.

Nevada hasn't executed anyone in nine years, but state legislators just passed a bill that would turn the 150-year-old Nevada State Prison — the only available location for Nevada to carry out an execution — into a museum.

When one lawmaker expressed concern that tourists would be able to visit a technically active execution chamber, the bill's sponsor brushed aside her concerns.

"The museum really won't get opened up and be fully public until such things as the execution chamber are taken care of," Republican Assemblyman P.K. O'Neill told the Associated Press.

"Even if we did have tourists, we'd shut them down several weeks prior, because it is still an active execution chamber. We want to be, and we will be, respectful of that."

According to the Nevada Appeal, the former head of the Department of Corrections thinks the museum could be a hit — that it could be as big as Alcatraz or could "become a major location for movie studios."

Meanwhile, the legislature is debating what to do about its execution chamber. A joint subcommittee split a vote 5-5 on whether the state should build a new chamber. Supporters say the current location in the Nevada State Prison could be problematic (even disregarding the tourists) because it doesn't comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Nevada's last execution was performed in 2006, and the state has only carried out the death penalty 12 times since 1977, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The state does not have any executions scheduled — but has about 80 inmates on death row.

On Wednesday, a joint subcommittee approved spending $860,000 on a new execution chamber in the Ely State Prison, where death row inmates are currently housed.

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