The governor of Idaho has signed into law a bill legalizing the use of a firing squad in state executions.
Gov. Brad Little signed the bill after it was passed on March 20 by a veto-proof majority of the Idaho Legislature.
Under the new law, firing squads will not be the first option and will only be used for executions when the drugs necessary for a lethal injection are unavailable.
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Idaho is the fifth state in the country to legalize the practice, following Utah, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Mississippi.
The newly legalized execution method could impact the state’s eight current death row immates and possibly the future of student stabbings suspect Bryan Kohberger.
He could face death if convicted of any of four first-degree murder charges he faces in the November deaths of Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle.
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“The firing squad is the quickest, surest and most error-free and the only technique for which we have skilled and trained professionals,” says Fordham Law School professor Deborah Denno, a leading expert on the death penalty in the US
Denno, who has researched methods of execution for the past three decades, has written seven articles cited by the High Court on the topic, according to her university biography.
In addition to a persistent scarcity of approved lethal injection drugs, the procedure is difficult for a number of reasons.
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Condemned inmates often have vein damage due to prolonged drug use, some of them are too obese, and others have too much muscle, she said. Others are so nervous that their veins contract.
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In some coarse cases, executioners are forced to cut into the immate’s neck or groin to find a place to insert the needle. At times, convicted inmates have even assisted prison personnel in inserting it themselves.