Society and Culture
Utah May Bring Back the Firing Squad
I’m a Texas girl and you know we love our death penalty down here, but this week it was interesting to discover that Utah is in discussions to bring back the firing squad as one of its execution methods.
Last Friday, Utah’s House of Representatives voted 39-34 to approve the firing squad idea. Both houses of the state legislature are controlled by Republicans, and Republican Gary Herbert sits in the Governor’s office. Herbert has kept a tight lip about whether or not he would sign the bill in question.
Apparently the firing squad has not been a very distant memory in the Beehive State. Naturally the state offers the typical lethal injection, but it also allowed the authorization of firing squads to inmates who selected that form of execution over lethal injection prior to May 3, 2004. While death-row prisoners still have the right to choose that option, the state might bring it back on a wider scale because of new concerns about lethal injection not working correctly. Advocates of this bill cited cases from Arizona and Colorado where the lethal injection was botched and led to Supreme Court challenges of that method of execution.
Of course, in addition to these advocates there are also those who oppose the bill, namely the 34 representatives who voted against it. Many of those believe that the death penalty should be abolished altogether.
Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican from Clearfield who is sponsoring this measure, claims that a team of trained marksmen is more humane and provide much faster death than the drawn-out process of a possibly botched lethal injection. Now the bill in question would simply call for a firing squad if the state can not get the drugs needed for the lethal injection 30 days in advance of the execution. What is interesting is that there are several different kinds of lethal injection. Some states, including Utah, use a three-drug cocktail, whereas other states like Texas use a single drug.
Now that this has passed in the Utah House it is in the hands of the Senate and no one really knows which way it will go.
If you are curious, this website has a very interesting list of what all the states allow or did allow as a form of execution.