Idaho to let prisoners on death row be executed by firing squad if no lethal injections available | US News
Idaho will allow prisoners on death row to be executed by firing squad due to a US nationwide shortage of lethal injection drugs.
Dwindling supplies of the substances needed have increasingly seen pharmaceutical companies ban jails from using them for killing inmates.
South Carolina’s law is on hold pending a legal challenge, but Idaho’s bill passed through its state legislature without issue earlier this week and was signed by Republican governor Brad Little.
Mr Little said: “While I am signing this bill, it is important to point out that fulfilling justice can and must be done by minimising stress on corrections personnel.
“For the people on death row, a jury convicted them of their crimes, and they were lawfully sentenced to death.”
But senator Dan Foreman, also a Republican, called firing-squad executions “beneath the dignity of the state”.
They would traumatise the executioners, witnesses, and the staff who clean up afterward, he said.
And the state’s prisons department director, Jeff Tewalt, said he would be reluctant to ask workers to participate.
The department also estimates it will cost $750,000 (£613,000) to build or retrofit a death chamber.
Electric chairs and nitrogen gas
While federal executions have been put on hold since 2021, under orders of President Joe Biden‘s attorney general, individual states can carry them out.
The issue with drug supplies has seen some states consider non-firing squad methods.
This includes refurbishing electric chairs, despite a judge ruling last year that they constitute torture, while Alabama has built an as yet untried system for executing people using nitrogen gas to induce hypoxia.
Mr Biden had pledged during his 2020 election campaign to work towards ending the death penalty nationwide, but hasn’t pressed the issue since becoming president.