Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a bill allowing execution by firing squad, making Idaho the latest state to turn to ancient methods of the death penalty amid a nationwide shortage of lethal injection drugs.
Legislature The measure passed on March 20 with a non-veto majority. Under it, death squads would only be used if the country could not obtain the drugs needed for lethal injection.
Pharmaceutical companies increasingly banned the executioners from using their drugs, saying they were meant to save lives. An Idaho death row inmate’s execution has already been repeatedly delayed due to a drug scarcity.
This shortage has prompted other countries in recent years to revive old enforcement methods. Only Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina have laws allowing death squads if other execution methods are not available, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The South Carolina law is pending the outcome of a legal challenge.
Some states have begun refurbishing electric chairs as a backup in case lethal drugs are not available. Others have considered — and sometimes used — largely untested implementation methods. In 2018, Nevada executed Carey Dean Moore with a never-before-tried combination of drugs, which included the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. Alabama has built a system for lynching people who use nitrogen gas to induce hypoxia, but it has not yet been used.
“As I sign this bill, it is important to note that justice can and should be done by reducing pressure on correctional staff.” Little is written in the referral letter After signing the invoice. “For people on death row, convicted by a jury of their crimes, and legally sentenced to death. It is the responsibility of the state of Idaho to follow the law and ensure that lawful criminal sentences are carried out.”
During a historic round of 13 executions in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency, the federal government chose the sedative pentobarbital as an alternative to the lethal drugs used in the 2000s. It issued a protocol allowing death squads to carry out federal executions if necessary, but this method was not used.
Some attorneys for federal prisoners who were eventually executed argued in court that firing squads would actually be faster and less painful than pentobarbital, which they said causes a drowning-like sensation.
However, in a 2019 filing, US attorneys cited an expert as saying that someone shot by a firing squad could remain conscious for 10 seconds and that it would be “extremely traumatic, particularly in terms of bone shattering and spinal cord damage.”
President Joe Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, has ordered a temporary halt to federal executions in 2021 while the Justice Department reviews protocols. Garland did not say how long the moratorium would last.
Idaho Sen. Doug Ricks, a Republican co-sponsor of the state’s death squad bill, told fellow senators Monday (3/20) that the state’s difficulty finding lethal injection drugs could continue “indefinitely,” and that he believes That death by firing squad. is “humane”, and that the bill will help ensure that the rule of law is implemented.
But Sen. Dan Furman, also a Republican, has called the executions by firing squads “a disgrace to the state of Idaho.” He said they would traumatize the executioners, NAIJAONPOINT es, and the people who clean up afterward.
The bill came with Republican Rep. Bruce Skoog, motivated in part by the state’s inability to execute Gerald Pizzuto Jr. late last year. Pizzuto, now suffering from cancer and other debilitating ailments, has spent more than three decades on death row for his role in the 1985 killing of gold diggers.
The Idaho Department of Correction estimates that building or modifying a death chamber for death squad executions would cost approximately $750,000.
Agency director Jeff Tewalt said he would be reluctant to ask his employees to participate in a firing squad.
Tewalt and former co-worker Kevin Kempf played a key role in obtaining the drugs used in the 2012 execution of Richard Albert Levitt, traveling to Tacoma, Washington, with more than $15,000 in cash to purchase them from a pharmacist. The department kept the trip secret, but it was revealed in court documents after University of Idaho professor Alisa Cover sued for the information under the Public Records Act.
Biden pledged during his campaign to work to end the death penalty across the country, but as president he has been silent on the issue. Critics say his laissez-faire approach threatens to send the message that he approves of countries adopting alternative enforcement methods.