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  • 17 May 2014, 21:06

Utah May Bring Back Firing Squad Executions

A Utah politician wants to bring back firing squads as a method of execution after controversy over a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma.

Republican Representative Paul Ray believes death by gun is a more humane and cheaper form of execution, and wants it to be an option for criminals sentenced to death in his state.

He plans to introduce his proposal during Utah's next legislative session in January.

Lawmakers in Wyoming and Missouri tried to pass similar legislation this year, but both efforts failed.

Mr Ray believes firing squads may seem more acceptable now, especially after drug shortages complicated lethal injections.

The default method of execution in the US also came under heightened scrutiny last month when prisoner Clayton Lockett's vein collapsed and he died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes later.

"It sounds like the Wild West, but it's probably the most humane way to kill somebody," Mr Ray said.

"The prisoner dies instantly. It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you're dead. There's no suffering."

However, critics say things can go wrong with any method of execution.

They cite a case from Utah's territorial days in 1897, when a firing squad missed Wallace Wilkerson's heart and it took him 27 minutes to die.

Utah outlawed firing squads in 2004, citing the excessive media attention it gave inmates.

But those sentenced to death before that date still have the option of choosing it.

The last execution by rifle in the state was 2010, when five police officers used .30-caliber Winchester rifles to kill Ronnie Lee Gardner, who murdered a lawyer in 1985 while trying to escape from a courthouse.

Ray's proposal would give all inmates the option to be shot.

Opponents say firing squads are not necessarily a foolproof answer.

It is possible an inmate could move or police could miss, causing the inmate a slow and painful death, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.

 

 

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