Idaho has become the latest state to allow death by firing squad as a means of execution after Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a bill into law March 24.
“While I am signing this bill, it is important to point out that fulfilling justice can and must be done by minimizing stress on corrections personnel,” Little wrote in a corresponding letter with the passage of the bill.
“For the people on death row, a jury convicted them of their crimes, and they were lawfully sentenced to death. It is the responsibility of the state of Idaho to follow the law and ensure that lawful criminal sentences are carried out,” the letter continued.
Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a bill allowing execution by firing squad, making Idaho the latest state to turn to older methods of capital punishment amid a nationwide shortage of lethal-injection drugs. https://t.co/oFCRke4qNV
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 25, 2023
The bill in Idaho came about after the state was forced to stay the execution of Gerald Pizzuto, Jr. due to a shortage of the drugs required to carry out the lethal injection, according to The Associated Press. Pizzuto has spent more than 30 years on death row for the 1985 slayings of Berta Herndon, 58, and her 37-year-old nephew, Del Herndon, Newsweek reported.
Due to a nationwide shortage of drugs typically used in lethal injections, numerous states have been turning to other methods of execution to carry out sentences for prisoners on death row, The AP reported. The shortages have come as pharmaceutical companies have raised issue with their drugs being used as a means for capital punishment when they were developed with the intent to save lives, the outlet stated. (RELATED: South Carolina Governor Signs Bill Requiring Death Row Inmates To Choose Between Electric Chair Or Firing Squad)
In the final month’s of Donald Trump’s presidency, the sedative pentobarbital was selected as a replacement for lethal drugs used previously for executions carried out by the federal government. Lawyers, however, argued that firing squads would be quicker and more humane as pentobarbital can simulate the same effects felt in drowning, the AP reported.
Other lawyers argued that death by firing squad could be “severely painful” as it could possibly leave a person conscious up to 10 seconds after shattering bones and causing potential damage to their spinal cord” the outlet stated. This argument was shared by Republican Idaho state Sen. Dan Foreman who called firing squads, “beneath the dignity of the state of Idaho,” claiming their use would traumatize the executioners and those who had to clean up afterward, the AP reported.
“Throughout my life in public service, I have supported capital punishment when our justice system determines death is the only appropriate sentence for a person who committed a heinous crime. The families of the victims deserve justice for their loved ones and the death penalty is a way to bring them peace,” Little wrote of his decision to sign the bill into law.
Idaho’s new execution law follows those of Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina who also allow for death by firing squad if no other means of execution methods are available. South Carolina’s law, however, is currently being challenged legally, according to The AP.