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Firing Squad Bill Passes First Hurdle in the Senate

Brian Grimmett
File: Utah State Capitol

A bill that would bring back the firing squad as an execution option for inmates on death row moved through its first hurdle in the Utah Senate Thursday.

The intent of HB11 is to allow Utah to use the firing squad as an option for the death penalty in the event that the drugs used for lethal injection are no longer available. The Senate advanced the bill without any debate, surprising even Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser.

“I thought that bill might get more discussion,” he said.

While there was little debate, the bill only narrowly passed by a vote of 15 – 12. Senator Luz Escamilla voted against the measure. She says she voted against it because she thinks it asks the wrong question.

“I’d rather have a conversation and have robust meetings on this and have public comment come in, but just to address a process issue where it’s not needed and really just, again, making a statement that in Utah we use the firing squad," she said. "I think it’s too violent to me and that’s why I didn’t feel comfortable voting for the bill.”

There are currently eight inmates on death row in Utah. None are scheduled to be executed in the near future. The Senate will consider the bill one last time before final passage. 

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