Utah legislators on Tuesday passed a bill that, if ratified by Governor Gary Herbert, will allow inmate executions by firing squad in the event that lethal-injection drugs are unavailable.
The bill, passed through the state senate by an 18-10 vote, will make Utah the only state in America with such a provision. Herbert, a Republican, won’t comment on whether he will sign the bill until he has had time to review the final legislation.
But in a statement, the governor’s office told TIME, “Our state, as is the case with states around the country, is finding it increasingly difficult to obtain the substances required to perform a lethal injection … if those substances cannot be obtained, this proposal would make sure that those instructed to carry out the lawful order of the court and the carefully deliberated decision of the jury can do so.”
In 2004, Utah phased out the option of choosing execution by firing squad, but there remains a group of inmates who were sentenced before and so can still be executed in this manner. The last instance was in 2010 when Ronnie Lee Gardner, convicted of murder, was executed.
Wyoming, Oklahoma and Tennessee are also in the process of finding alternative execution methods.
Last year’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma — in which an untested blend of drugs led to a drawn-out and supposedly painful death — brought national scrutiny to the merits of lethal injections.
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