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Utah bill proposes to bring back firing squad executions

By Scott Tuttle     Nov 20, 2014 in Crime
Salt Lake City - Having previously discontinued the use of firing squad executions in Utah, a legislative committee has endorsed a bill that might bring the practice back.
In recent years, European pharmaceutical companies have professed their opposition to capital punishment by refusing to sell lethal injection drug cocktails to U.S. prisons. As lethal injection is the default mode of execution in most U.S. states, lawmakers are scrambling for a solution to the lack of supplies.
In some states, officials have tried substituting the three-injection cocktail for lethal doses of other drugs, which culminated in convicted murder and rapist Clayton Lockett's botched Oklahoma execution. Accounts of the incident claim Lockett squirmed and gasped in agony for 30 minutes after the injection until finally dying of a heart attack.
The new bill, proposed by Representative Paul Ray, would authorize Utah prisons to issue firing squad executions if the proper lethal injection cocktail cannot be obtained at least 30 days prior to the scheduled execution date.
Why firing squads as opposed to other traditional forms of execution? Ray claims it is "one of the most humane," and "most painless ways."
"We have to have an option. 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?"
The Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee passed the proposal by a 9-2 vote Wednesday, but the bill will not be heard by Utah's Legislative General Session until January of next year.
Until 2004, Utah inmates sentenced to death were given the choice between lethal injection and the firing squad. Those sentenced before the 2004 legislation making lethal injection the default method maintained their right to choose.
The last person executed by firing squad in Utah was Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010. Gardner was convicted of killing attorney Michael Burdell in 1985 while attempting to escape the courthouse during a hearing for a separate murder in which Gardner was accused.
More about Utah, Firing squad, Capital punishment, Lethal injection, paul ray
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