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Utah Lawmakers Consider Bringing Back the Firing Squad

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Brian Grimmett
Rep. Paul Ray, R - Clearfield, presents his bill to the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee

A legislative committee has given its approval to a bill that would bring back the firing squad as an option for inmates on death row.

The drugs used in the lethal injection cocktail are manufactured by a European company that is refusing to sell it to Utah and other states. Rep. Paul Ray, R - Clearfield, says his proposed bill making the firing squad a fall back option is a preventative measure in case the state does not have or cannot buy the drugs the next time they need them.

“Let’s go in and fix that problem right now and get it taken care of before we have to worry about a $1 million challenge in the courts and all kinds of fights and motions that are going to delay this even longer,” he says.

But Jean Hill, government liaison for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake, says there is no humane way to kill a person, and instead of finding a plan B, Utah should lead out on eliminating the death penalty.

“These may be heinous crimes that have been committed, and the idea of revenge is a normal human emotion when we hear the crimes that have been committed, but the state’s role is not to take revenge on people," she says. "The state’s role is public safety and the death penalty has been proven to be unnecessary to fulfill that role.”

Currently the Utah Corrections Department does not have any of the drugs used for lethal injection executions. The next time they might need it, could be in as little as two years. 

Utah has eight inmates on death row; Three of them have selected death by firing squad, which was an option to anyone sentenced to death before 2004. 

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