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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Bring back the firing squad for executions? Idaho officials considered it

Bring back the firing squad as a means of execution in Idaho? That’s something the state Department of Correction actually has been exploring, as states continue to struggle to obtain appropriate drugs for lethal-injection executions.

“We considered asking the Legislature to amend the statute so a firing squad could be used as a means of execution,” confirmed department spokesman Jeff Ray. “Like many states, we are concerned about the future availability of the drugs used for lethal injections.”

The department went so far as to draft legislation last month, obtained by The Spokesman-Review under the Idaho Public Records Law. But the idea was dropped before it could be presented to Gov. Butch Otter. “As we explored the proposal, we determined it would cost at least $300,000 to set up the firing squad,” Ray said in an email. “The proposal also would have diverted our attention from other important initiatives we have under way. … It just came down to a judgment call.” You can read my full Sunday column here; only three executions by firing squad have taken place in the U.S. since 1976, all three in Utah.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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