Legislation to bring back firing squad executions in Idaho advances to the Senate

If Idaho passes the bill, it will become the 5th state in the nation to utilize the method of executing inmates on death row.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:23 PM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Legislation that will bring back the firing squad to Idaho, as a secondary means of execution when lethal injection is not available, is heading to the Senate.

In a tight vote, the Senate State Affairs Committee voted 5 to 4, to send HB186 to the Senate Floor with a “Do Pass” recommendation.

The bill sponsors Rep. Bruce Skaug and Sen. Doug Ricks told the committee that many states, like Idaho, are having a difficult time acquiring the drugs necessary to execute a death warrant via lethal injection. As a result, scheduled executions have been delayed.

Recently, U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill entered an order granting a stay of execution for 66-year-old Gerald Pizzuto, due to the Idaho Department of Correction not being able to obtain the materials necessary to carry out an execution by lethal injection.

Those who spoke in opposition of the bill felt a firing squad execution would be an inhumane way to end someone’s life, and it would also be traumatic for those participating in the firing squad.

“Do you want any of your children to be on a firing squad? Can you imagine what the emotional and the psychological toll that being part of a firing squad might be,” said Mary Ruckh, who spoke in opposition to the bill.

However, those who advocated for the bill said right now states are in limbo, and there is no timeline for when the drugs for lethal injection might be available. Additionally, there are no other options available right now for carrying out executions. Idaho currently has eight people on death row.

“The families are victims in this case. I think they look to us to help carry out these sentences, carry out means for that. Mr. Pizzuto, who was mentioned, bludgeoned his victims with a hammer in the head, “ Ricks said.

The legislation passed House earlier this month 50-15, with both Democrats and Republicans voting in opposition.