[JURIST] The Utah State Legislature [official website] gave final approval to a bill [text, PDF] Tuesday that will allow execution by firing squad if lethal injection drugs are unavailable. The goal of House Bill 11 is to provide an alternative execution method to lethal injection, as supplies of the traditional drugs have become scarce. In February the Utah House of Representatives narrowly approved the bill [JURIST report] by only six votes. Passage of HB 11, sponsored by Utah representative Paul Ray [official website], would make Utah the first state to allow execution by firing squad. The bill now goes before Governor Gary Herbert, whose support is uncertain.
The death penalty remains a controversial issue throughout the US with many states seeking to end the practice or institute reforms. Earlier this month the US Supreme Court granted certiorari [JURIST report] to determine whether Florida’s death sentencing protocol was constitutional. Last month US Attorney General Eric Holder voiced his support [JURIST report] for a moratorium on the death penalty pending a decision by the Supreme Court in Glossip v. Gross [SCOTUSblog backgrounder]. The court granted certiorari in late January to determine the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s three-drug execution protocol. In January a man with an IQ of 67 was executed [JURIST report] in Texas after the Supreme Court denied two pleas for delay. In December four Ohio death row inmates filed a complaint [JURIST report] challenging a measure providing for the confidentiality of entities involved in the manufacture of drugs for use in capital punishment by lethal injection, and of the persons involved in executing a sentence of capital punishment.