Utah Lawmakers Vote To Bring Back Firing Squad Executions
The Utah Senate yesterday passed a bill authorizing the use of firing squads for executions as a backup in case the primary method of lethal injections is unavailable.
The bill is seen as a response to the growing movement that is successfully pressuring manufacturers of the drugs used in injections to refuse to supply them to states.
The bill's chief sponsor, Republican Paul Ray, said last November that it essentially doesn't matter how the state executes prisoners. "We have to have an option," he said then. "If we go hanging, if we go to the guillotine, or we go to the firing squad, electric chair, you're still going to have the same circus atmosphere behind it. So is it really going to matter?"
In a statement to the local press, Utah's Republican governor Gary Herbert seemed to indicate that he will sign the legislation:
As a general practice, Gov. Herbert does not commit to action on a bill until he has reviewed the final version that has passed both the House and the Senate. He is, however, willing to discuss the principles by which he evaluates legislation.
In the state of Utah, aggravated murder is a crime punishable by death. This is a sentence that was determined to be appropriate for crimes where a life was taken in an especially heinous and aggravated manner and was enacted by our Legislature with the support of their constituents. Accordingly, in those cases, as a state, we ask a jury to make the difficult decision to impose the death sentence. When a jury makes that decision and a judge signs a warrant enforcing that lawful decision, we have an obligation to make sure the order can be carried out. Our statute is clear that lethal injection is the method by which that will happen. We have no intent to change that.
Our Department of Corrections is conscientious and dedicated to making sure that they are able to carry out the order in that manner. However, our state, as is the case with states around the country, is finding it increasingly difficult to obtain the substances required to perform a lethal injection. We are dedicated to pursuing all reasonable and legal options to obtain those substances to make sure that, when required, we are in a position to carry out this very serious sentence by lethal injection. However, if those substances cannot be obtained, this proposal would make sure that those instructed to carry out the lawful order of the court and the carefully deliberated decision of the jury can do so.