Idaho Becomes Latest State To Permit Firing Squad As Alternative To Other Execution Techniques

In accordance with a bill the Legislature enacted on Monday with a veto-proof majority, Idaho is prepared to let fire squads to execute convicted criminals when the state cannot get lethal injection medications.

Only in cases where the state is unable to procure the medications required for fatal injections will firing squads be utilized; according to the AP, one death row inmate's scheduled execution has already been repeatedly postponed due to drug shortages. Idaho once had a provision for a firing squad, but it was never used. Since the US Supreme Court supported a prevalent practice of lethal injection at the time, the option was eliminated from state law in 2009.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, only Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, and South Carolina presently permit firing squads as an alternative to other execution techniques. The law in South Carolina has been put on hold by a judge pending the outcome of a lawsuit contesting the procedure. Republican Governor Brad Little has stated his support for the death sentence, but he typically stays silent prior to signing or vetoing legislation.

Republican co-sponsor of the legislation Sen. Doug Ricks stated to his colleagues senators on Monday that he thought execution by firing squad was "humane" and that the state would have trouble locating lethal injection medications "indefinitely." This is a matter of rule of law; our criminal justice system must function, and just punishment must be meted out, he declared.

Republican senator Dan Foreman, however, claimed that firing squad executions will traumatize those who carry them out, witness them, and clean up afterward. Anybody who witnesses a shooting suffers psychological harm, according to Foreman, who has seen the aftermath. In my perspective, the use of the firing squad is a disgrace to the state of Idaho.

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