US state bringing back execution by firing squad sparks debate

US state bringing back execution by firing squad sparks debate

The practice of executing death row prisoners by the firing squad, which was revived in the US state of Utah, has sparked heated debates between the supporters of the measure and those opposed to it.

"The firing squad is a brutal, barbaric method of execution," Karen McCreary, executive director of the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said on Tuesday after Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed  the law into effect, Xinhua reported citingh a report on Wednesday.

"Those who voiced opposition to this bill are primarily arguing against capital punishment in general, but that decision has already been made  in our state," said the governor's spokesman Marty Carpenter, in  response to the controversy generated by the new law.
Governor Herbert signed on Monday a bill into law allowing for the execution of death row prisoners by the firing squad in case the state  ran out of lethal injections, whose supply has become scarce in the country.

Utah is not the only US state to adopt such measures. Last year, Tennessee reintroduced the electric chair for executions.

Arkansas lawmakers are studying the possibility of bringing back the firing squad, as well, while Oklahoma is considering the use of gas  chamber.

Lethal injections are the most preferred method for executions in the US  as it has been employed in 1,229 of the 1,404 executions in the country  since the death penalty was restored in 1976.

However, alternative methods are being considered in preparation for a future when drugs needed for the injections may not be available.

This problem began in 2011 when authorities faced shortage of the chemicals used for lethal injections because US manufacturer, Hospira, stopped producing an essential component of the formula.

Since then, several new formulae have been tested, resulting in three erred cases last year when death row inmates suffered for prolonged periods of time before eventually passing away.

Moreover, many US drug manufacturers have refused to sell the lethal concoctions as they do not want to associate their brand name with  capital punishment.

Following botched executions in 2014, the US Supreme Court is examining the legality of some of the drugs used in the last three years, while states such as Oklahoma, Florida and Ohio have put executions on hold.

"We regret anyone ever commits the heinous crime of aggravated murder to merit the death penalty and we prefer to use our primary method of  lethal injection when such a sentence is issued," said Carpenter.

"However, when a jury makes the decision and a judge signs a death  warrant, enforcing that lawful decision is the obligation of the  executive branch," he added.

Utah, the only state to have used the firing squad since the restoration  of capital punishment in the country, has employed this method on three  earlier occasions, the last being in 2010.

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