Firing Squads to End in Utah

by TChris

Four Utah death row inmates who want to face a firing squad may have their wishes fulfilled, despite a new law that, if signed by the Governor, will ban that form of execution. While firing squads have not been widely used in this country since the Civil War, Utah has imposed the death penalty on thirty-nine prisoners (including Gary Gilmore) by shooting them to death. Sadly, debate in the Utah legislature focused not on the barbarity of a practice that is authorized only in two other states, but upon the value of the publicity surrounding the executions.

During the Senate debate on Thursday, Sen. Ron Allen, a Democrat, said allowing murderers to choose firing squads so they can "go out in a blaze of glory" makes heroes of criminals and causes victims' families more pain.

But Sen. Dave Thomas, a Republican, argued that media circuses are "exactly what we want" in executions.

"We don't want these sentences to be carried out in the dead of night so no one knows," said Thomas, adding that lethal injection is painless and "the easy way out."

Sigh. Governor Olene Walker is expected to sign the law changing Utah's method of execution to lethal injection.

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