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Idaho governor signs legislation allowing firing squad executions
Photo by Greg Smith/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Idaho governor signs legislation allowing firing squad executions

Idaho's Governor Brad Little (R) signed legislation Friday allowing execution by firing squad beginning July 1.

"The families of the victims deserve justice for their loved ones and the death penalty is a way to bring them peace," said Gov. Little in a transmittal letter to Idaho's Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Moyle (R).

"Fulfilling justice can and must be done while minimizing stress on corrections personnel ... For the people on death row, a jury convicted them of their crimes, and they were lawfully sentenced to death."

Idaho's House Bill 186 calls for the director of the Idaho Department of Corrections to determine within five days of a death warrant being issued whether lethal injection is available. available. If lethal injection is available, lethal injection will be used as the method of execution. If the director does not so certify, fails to file the certification, or determines lethal injection is not available, the method of execution shall be firing squad.

In addition, the bill says if a court finds lethal injection to be unconstitutional, the method of execution shall be firing squad.

The legislation applies to all executions carried out on or after July 1.

Pharmaceuticals used to carry out executions by lethal injection have become more challenging to acquire due in part to pharmaceutical companies barring the use of their drugs for that purpose, the Associated Press reported.

The Idaho Department of Corrections estimates the cost to retrofit a death chamber for firing squad executions at about $750,000, CBS News reported.

Idaho became the fifth state to permit execution by firing squad when Gov. Little signed HB 186. Other states allowing the method include Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. South Carolina's law, however, is currently being challenged in court, AP also reported.

Ronnie Gardner, the most recent person to be executed by firing squad in June 2010, chose the method himself, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

How are executions via firing squad carried out?

TheBlaze cautions readers that the following section contains graphic descriptions of death via firing squad.

The death row inmate sentenced to execution by firing squad is typically first bound to a chair with leather straps across his or her waist and head, DPIC explains. Sandbags surrounding the chair are meant to absorb the blood. The chair is positioned in front of a canvas wall.

A black cloth is pulled over the prisoner's head. A doctor pins a cloth over the target, the prisoner's heart.

A number of shooters either 3 or 5, depending on the state, stand in an enclosure about 20 feet away. Each shooter has a .30 caliber rifle with single rounds. One of the shooters is given blank rounds. In South Carolina, each shooter's rounds are live.

Each shooter aims his or her rifle through a slot in the canvas wall and fires. If the shooter(s) miss the prisoner's heart, the prisoner slowly bleeds to death.

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