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Idaho governor signs bill to let state execute inmates by firing squad

Idaho is now the fifth state to reinstate executions by firing squad when lethal injection is unavailable.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho has just become the fifth state to add execution by firing squad as an option for the death penalty.

Idaho Governor Brad Little signed HB 186 -- which would authorize an execution by firing squad when lethal injection is unavailable -- into law just before 3 p.m. Friday, according to his website.

Idaho now joins Utah, South Carolina, Mississippi and Oklahoma that allow firing squads for death row inmates. Idaho has never executed a death row inmate by firing squad, and the method was later abolished in 2009. 

In his letter to the speaker of the House, Little wrote that throughout his life in public service he has supported capital punishment when the justice system determines it is the appropriate sentence.

"The families of the victims deserve justice for their loved ones and the death penalty is a way to bring them peace," he wrote. Little said it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that the law, the death penalty, is carried out when it is authorized.

Idaho has not been able to obtain lethal injection drugs, an attorney for the Idaho Attorney General's Office previously said in a House committee. 

Gerald Pizzuto, convicted of murdering two people in McCall in 1985, was sentenced to death and set to be executed last year -- but the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) called it off due to lack of the drugs needed for the execution.

Regardless, the Idaho Attorney General's Office ordered Pizzuto to be sentenced to death anyway within 30 days of the order on March 23. Then, HB 186 was introduced.

The IDOC again called off Pizzuto's execution. 

Jeff Ray, IDOC spokesperson, wrote in an email that IDOC suspended the execution procedures until such time they "anticipate a change in the material ability to carry out an execution."

"IDOC is not in possession of the chemicals necessary to carry out an execution by lethal injection. Efforts to lawfully source chemicals are ongoing," Ray wrote. 

In Little's letter, he said he "has not given up" on Idaho's ability to obtain the lethal injection drugs needed for an execution. But, Little did say he believes the state must minimize the stress of the personnel who will be carrying out firing squad executions -- a concern some Idaho senators raised during the debate of HB 186 on the floor.

According Ray, the corrections department doesn't have a current estimation of how much a firing squad execution would cost -- but the bill implies that $750,000 would be used for the Department of Correction to refurbish its facility in order to reinstate the firing squad. A legislative budget committee also approved the budget for the firing squad this week.

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