Idaho’s legislature passed a bill on Monday granting the state the authority to execute condemned inmates by firing squad, with enough votes to override any potential veto from the governor. This comes as the state has experienced difficulty in obtaining the drugs necessary for lethal injection executions; for instance, at least one death row inmate has had their execution postponed several times due to drug scarcity.
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The state of Idaho had legislation permitting the use of a firing squad as a means of execution, however, it has never been utilized. In 2009, the Supreme Court decision to uphold the practice of lethal injection, which was the most frequently used method of execution at the time, prompted the removal of the firing squad option.
As of now, only four states in the U.S., Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina, have laws still in place that permit the use of a firing squad if other execution methods are unobtainable. In South Carolina, a judge has suspended the legislation until a legal case against the method is resolved.
“This is not talking about the merits of whether we should have the death penalty or not,” state senator Doug Ricks said, “This is about justice. I do think this a humane way to do it.”
In 1982, the state of Idaho adopted the use of a firing squad as a valid option for executions; however, this option was never actually utilized. In 2009, the United States Supreme Court approved of lethal injections as the more preferred method of execution, leading to the repeal of the law that granted this option to Idaho, rendering firing squads no longer an available choice for capital punishment.