Utah to bring back firing squad if lethal injections unavailable

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 10, 2015 8:34 PM

(Reuters) - Lawmakers in Utah voted on Tuesday to bring back the use of executions by firing squad if lethal injections are unavailable, which would make it the only state in the country to permit the practice.

Utah used firing squads for decades before adopting lethal injections in 2004. The Republican-sponsored bill, which passed the state Senate by 18-10, was introduced amid national concerns about the efficacy of lethal injections.

The measure, approved last month by the Utah House of Representatives, says a firing squad should be used if "the state is unable to lawfully obtain the substance or substances necessary to conduct an execution by lethal intravenous injection 30 or more days" before the date set for the procedure.

Supporters of the legislation said three states - Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona - recently carried out lethal injections that led to inmates' physical distress and drawn-out deaths, and that death by firing squad was more humane.

The bill now goes to Utah Governor Gary Herbert. In a statement, a spokesman for the Republican governor said he had not yet decided whether to sign the measure.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)