[JURIST] Utah Governor Gary Herbert [official website] signed a bill [press release] on Monday to restore the firing squad as a method of execution, making Utah the only US state with the option. The legislation, which was approved by the state’s senate earlier this month, allows for the use of a firing squad if drugs used for lethal injections are unavailable. Although met with criticism, Herbert’s spokesperson said:
Those who voiced opposition to this bill are primarily arguing against capital punishment in general, but that decision has already been made in our state. We regret anyone ever commits the heinous crime of aggravated murder to merit the death penalty and we prefer to use our primary method of lethal injection when such a sentence is issued.
Utah removed the choice [AFP report] for a firing squad execution in 2004. However, the state last executed a man by firing squad in 2010, following a request by a death row inmate who was sentenced before the 2004 law went into effect.
The use of alternative drug protocols in lethal injections and legislation to keep execution details secret have been topics of much debate and controversy in the US. Earlier this month, Alabama’s house of representatives voted to bring back [JURIST report] the use of the electric chair when chemicals for lethal injection are not available. In October Alabama death row inmate Christopher Lee Price filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] against the Alabama Department of Corrections claiming that the new lethal injection mix planned for use in his execution is unconstitutional. In September Oklahoma moved to adopt [JURIST report] new lethal injection procedures following the controversy around the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April. In August a federal appeals court denied a challenge [JURIST report] to the lethal injection mix being used in Texas, where the inmate claimed similar violations of the eighth and fourteenth amendments. In December the Ohio House of Representatives approved a bill [JURIST report] that would grant anonymity to drug manufacturers charged with supplying the lethal drugs for 20 years. In May the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled [JURIST report] that the source of execution drugs can remain a secret.