Idaho governor signs bill to allow execution of inmates by firing squad

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Friday signed legislation that will allow execution by firing squad.

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The law allows state penal authorities to use the firing squad to carry out death sentences when lethal injections are unavailable, the Idaho Statesman reported.

HB 186, signed by the governor on Friday, makes Idaho the fifth state to have the firing squad as an option for capital punishment, according to KTVB.

The new law will go into effect on July 1, the Statesman and The Hill reported.

According to the newspaper, the Idaho Department of Correction also plans to spend approximately $750,000 to overhaul a cell block at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution, where death row inmates are housed, to move forward with firing squad executions.

Idaho joins Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah as states that have legalized firing squads, The Hill reported. The South Carolina law has been temporarily put on hold due to a court battle challenging its constitutionality, according to the website.

In a letter to state House Speaker Mike Moyle, Little said he decided to sign the bill because he supported Idaho having the ability to successfully carry out the death penalty when necessary for “heinous” crimes.

Little also reiterated his desire to obtain chemicals for lethal injections.

“The families of the victims deserve justice for their loved ones and the death penalty is a way to bring them peace,” he wrote. “I have not given up on the state’s ability to acquire the chemicals.

“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 added. “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.”

Utah was the last state to execute a prisoner by a firing squad, the Statesman reported. Convicted double-murderer Ronnie Gardner was put to death by a firing squad in 2010. Utah has carried out firing squad executions three times since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

Gary Gilmore was executed in 1976 and John Albert Taylor was put to death in 1996.

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