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House Bill 186 — Methods of execution

House Bill 186 — Methods of execution

Parrish Miller
February 23, 2023

Bill Description: House Bill 186 would allow the Department of Correction to perform executions via firing squad if lethal injection drugs are unavailable or the process of lethal injection is found to be unconstitutional. 

Rating: 0

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

House Bill 186 would amend Section 19-2716, Idaho Code, to add "firing squad" as a method by which "the punishment of death shall be inflicted." 

Additionally, it would say that "not later than five (5) days after the issuance of a death warrant, the director of the Idaho department of correction must determine, and certify by affidavit to the court that issued the death warrant, whether execution by lethal injection, as described in subsection (1)(a) of this section, is available."

It further stipulates that "if the director certifies that lethal injection is available, the method of execution shall be lethal injection," but "if the director does not certify that lethal injection is available, fails to file a certification as required pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, or otherwise determines that lethal injection is unavailable, the method of execution shall be firing squad."

Finally, it says that "if a court holds that lethal injection is unconstitutional, on its face or as applied, or otherwise determines that firing squad is a constitutionally required method of execution, the method of execution shall be firing squad."

The purpose of this bill seems to be to provide the state with a backup method of execution should its current method prove unavailable or unconstitutional. 

There are a number of legitimate concerns surrounding lethal injection, ranging from a growing number of botched executions and the infliction of excessive pain to the ethics of producing and administering the required drugs. Nevertheless, execution by lethal injection is currently deemed both legal and constitutional in Idaho. It is somewhat concerning, however, that the state's reaction to the prospect of lethal injection being found unconstitutional is to jump immediately to a different method of execution rather than to stop and consider if the intentional termination of human life is even within the proper role of government. 


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