In a move seemingly from 1815 rather than 2015, the Utah senate signed a bill which would permit the state’s prisons to execute inmates by firing squad in instances when drugs used in lethal injection are running low, Common Dreams reported.
“The method of execution for the defendant is firing squad if the sentencing court determines the state is unable to lawfully obtain the substance or substances necessary to conduct an execution by lethal intravenous injection 30 or more days prior to the date specified.”
The amendment to the state’s current death penalty procedures was sponsored by state Rep. Paul Ray (R), who told the Associated Press, “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.”
Despite strong opposition from state residents, the bill, which passed the House last month, now moves to Gov. Gary Herbert (R) for approval. Herbert has not publicly said whether or not he will sign the bill, but his office has “previously signaled that the measure could provide an important backup plan,” according to Common Dreams.
Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (UTADP) said in a statement that a firing squad only serves to escalate “the brutality of state executions.”
Utah actually repealed the state’s firing squad option just over a decade ago, and UTADP says the justification for the repeal still applies today. In the statement, UTDAP said,
- Bringing back the firing squad will negatively affect Utah’s reputation for moral leadership. Instead, Utah should expect national and international condemnation.
- Convicted murderers will continue to gain notoriety while the victims are forgotten.
- Executions will create media frenzy. Even Rep. Paul Ray … has admitted that the firing squad will bring a “circus atmosphere” to executions in Utah.
“Most importantly,” the statement read, “execution by firing squad sends a very graphic message that belies state leaders’ commitment to respecting and protecting human life.”
Sadly, Utah isn’t alone in trying to adopt the firing squad option. Arkansas and Wyoming have both had similar legislation introduced, and Oklahoma recently held hearings about making the gas chamber its back-up method of execution.