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Utah senate votes to repeal death penalty

[JURIST] The Utah Senate [official website] voted 20-9 on Tuesday in favor of a bill [SB 189] to repeal the death penalty. The Death Penalty Amendments bill would reorganize murder and homicide statutes as non capital offenses [JURIST op-ed] and give the prosecutors until May to seek a notice of capital punishment for any pending case. The legislation awaits final approval in the senate before heading to the House of Representatives. Utah is one of more than 30 states that retains the death penalty, and last year the state approved the use of death by firing squad [JURIST report] as an alternative to lethal injection.

Capital punishment [JURIST op-ed] remains a controversial issue in the US and worldwide. The Florida Supreme Court [official website] in February stayed [order, PDF] the execution of Cary Michael Lambrix amid growing concern [JURIST Report] about the constitutionality of Florida's death penalty scheme.The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 8-1 in January in Hurst v. Florida [docket] that Florida's capital sentencing scheme violates [JURIST Report] the Sixth Amendment. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood[official website] stated in January that he plans to ask lawmakers to approve the firing squad, electrocution or nitrogen gas as alternate methods of execution [press release] if the state prohibits lethal injections.

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