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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Utah May be Forced to Use the Firing Squad in Future Executions

 Utah's firing squad execution chair
Utah's firing squad execution chair
Utah is one step closer to returning to the firing squad as its only realistic form of capital punishment.

The Pfizer drug company has announced that it will no longer make available several of its drugs for use in state-sanctioned executions. Pfizer was the only U.S. firm still making, and allowing, drugs used in executions.

18 months ago Utah Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, got his HB11 passed into law. It specifically says if lethal drugs aren't available at the time a death warrant is to be imposed, then the form of execution shall be a firing squad.

In the 2016 Legislature retiring Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, had SB189, which would have done away with the death penalty in Utah from this time forward.

Those already sentenced to death could still be executed.

SB189 passed in the Senate, but never got a vote by the whole House.

An anti-death penalty group estimates that it costs $1.6 million for Utah to go through all the of court appeals in a capital case, much more than it would cost to keep a convicted murderer in prison for life.

Urquhart and others argued that the death penalty is archaic and that modern DNA and other criminal high-tech detection shows some people are convicted of, and executed for, crimes they did not commit.

Since 1975, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, Utah has executed 7 murderers and have 9 currently on death row awaiting execution.

With the international drug firm's decision over the weekend, it now appears those Utah murderers, if they are finally executed, will be killed by firing squad.

Source: utahpolicy.com, May 16, 2016

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