PNS Daily News - December 12, 2019 

A House Committee begins debate on articles of impeachment; Washington state is set to launch a paid family, medical leave program; advocates for refugees say disinformation clouds their case; and a new barrier to abortion in Kentucky.

2020Talks - December 12, 2019 

Today’s the deadline to qualify for this month’s debate, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang made it - the only non-white candidate who’ll be on stage. Plus, former Secretary Julián Castro questions the order of primary contests.

Utah May Use Firing Squads for Future Executions

Now that drugs normally used for lethal injections are unavailable, Utah could carry out future  executions using a firing squad. (zerbor/iStockphoto)
Now that drugs normally used for lethal injections are unavailable, Utah could carry out future executions using a firing squad. (zerbor/iStockphoto)
May 26, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY - With the drugs most commonly used for lethal injections no longer available, the state of Utah may revert to carrying out death sentences with a firing squad. The state has used lethal injection for most of its executions since 1977, but firing squads have remained an option in some cases.

Ronald Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the Utah Legislature passed a bill in 2015 specifying that firing squads would be used if lethal drugs could not be obtained.

"The reason they went to lethal injection was because they did not like the image that was portrayed by using a firing squad," he said. "They thought it was bad for the state."

Utah has used firing squads throughout most of the state's history, and most recently used one in an execution in 2010. Dunham said there currently are nine people waiting on Utah's death row, although no execution dates have been set. He said earlier this year, a bill to end the death penalty passed in the state Senate but never came to a vote in the House.

Dunham said since the drug company Pfizer banned the use of its drugs for executions, only three states have announced they would use an alternative method. In addition to Utah, Oklahoma will use a gas chamber and Tennessee an electric chair. Dunham said most other states have taken a wait-and-see attitude.

"For the most part, states have chosen to do nothing, because most states aren't executing anybody right now and their constituents are not disappointed by that," he added.

Dunham said in recent years, several polls have shown that among people who back the use of the death penalty, the majority support lethal injections but do not approve of using other, more violent methods. There are currently 19 states without a death penalty.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - UT