Idaho State Senate Votes to Bring Back Firing Squad Executions Amid Shortage of Lethal Injection Drugs

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Firing Squad
Idaho previously had a law on the books that allowed death sentences to be carried out by firing squads but had never used it; the law was abolished in 2009.  File photo: Alex Lerner, Shutter Stock, licensed.

BOISE, ID – Members of the Idaho State Senate voted 24 to 11 on Monday to pass a bill that, if signed into law by Governor Brad Little, would bring back firing squad executions as an option for death penalty cases amid a shortage of lethal injection drugs. 

The bill, HB 186, passed on a 50-15-5 vote earlier this month in the State House of Representatives; if put into effect it would allow officials to order a firing squad execution if the drugs needed for lethal injections are not available within 5 days of the condemned prisoner’s death warrant being issued. 

Having passed in the state Senate, the bill now goes to the desk of Governor Little. It is currently unknown if he plans to sign it or not. Idaho previously had a law on the books that allowed death sentences to be carried out by firing squads but had never used it; the law was abolished in 2009. 

If Idaho signs the bill into law, it will join four other states that currently offer executions via firing squad; Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah and South Carolina currently have this rule on their books, although invoking its use to carry out death penalties is extremely rare, experts say, with a total of only three condemned prisoners amongst them being put to death by a firing squad since 1976. 

Utah had reinstated firing squad executions in 2015, also citing difficulties in obtaining lethal injection drugs.   

Currently, there are eight inmates on death row in Idaho’s correctional system, and prosecutors are mulling over the possibility of seeking the death penalty in the currently ongoing case of Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of murdering 4 University of Idaho students with a knife in November. 

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