Utah Legislature Votes to Bring Back Firing Squad

Christine Rousselle
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Posted: Mar 11, 2015 4:45 PM
Utah Legislature Votes to Bring Back Firing Squad

Facing shortages of drugs used to carry out lethal injection executions, Utah's legislature has voted to bring back the firing squad as an option for carrying out capital punishment. This was first proposed last May, and it is unclear if Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) will veto the legislature's vote.

Utah previously gave inmates sentenced to death the option of the firing squad until 2004. The last time the firing squad was actually used in Utah was in 2010, on an inmate who chose the method for his own execution before the option was eliminated.

From the Washington Post:

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Ray of Clearfield, said it will give the state options. “We would love to get the lethal injection worked out so we can continue with that. But if not, now we have a backup plan,” Ray told The Associated Press.

Utah is one of several states to seek out new forms of capital punishment after a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last year and one in Arizona that took nearly two hours for the condemned man to die. Legislation to allow firing squads has been introduced in Arkansas this year. In Wyoming, a measure to allow firing squads if the lethal drugs aren’t available died. In Oklahoma, lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow the state to use nitrogen gas to execute inmates.

In Utah, Ray has touted the measure as being a more humane form of execution. He argued that a team of trained marksmen is faster than the drawn-out deaths that have occurred in botched lethal injections.

Utah has nine prisoners currently on death row.