Wyoming considers death by firing squad as Tennessee brings back electric chair, following lethal drugs shortages

A botched execution in Oklahoma last month has seen US states reassessing their death penalty procedures

The state of Wyoming is considering allowing death row inmates to be executed by firing squad, while Tennessee has signed a bill to bring back the electric chair, following a nationwide shortage of the drugs used to administer lethal injections.

A Wyoming legislative committee has directed its staff to draft a firing-squad bill for consideration ahead of next year's legislative session starting in January.

And in Tennessee the electric chair, last used in 2007, is now an option for executions in the state if lethal injection drugs are unavailable, following a bill that was signed by the governor on Thursday.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Utah are also considering a return to the firing squad, which was outlawed in the state in 2004.

Bob Lampert, director of the Wyoming Department of Corrections, told members of the Wyoming Legislature's Joint Interim Judiciary Committee last week in Rawlins that drugs for lethal injection have become increasingly difficult to obtain - they are often withheld by pharmaceutical companies in Europe who disapprove of the death penalty.

“In the event that we had an execution scheduled and we couldn't carry it out as a result of lack of substances, I suggested to the Joint Judiciary that we may want to consider having an alternate means of execution, such as the firing squad,” Mr Lampert said.

Wyoming state law mandates that it would execute condemned inmates in a gas chamber, which the state doesn't actually have, as a backup to lethal injection only if lethal injection were found to be unconstitutional. Existing state law doesn't address how the state should proceed in response to a drug shortage.

Wyoming has no execution drugs on hand, Lampert said.

Wyoming has only one inmate on death row - Dale Wayne Eaton, 69, who was given the death penalty in 2004 for the murder of 18-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmell.

Lethal injection is currently the primary execution method in all states that have capital punishment, but some states allow inmates the option of electrocution, hanging, firing squad or the gas chamber.

Last month, Oklahoma death row inmate Clayton Lockett convulsed on the execution table and died of a heart attack 40 minutes after the lethal drugs were injected, in a botched execution that prompted an external review.

The injection contained a triple-drug cocktail in dosages that had never previously been used for a US execution.

President Barack Obama called the Lockett incident deeply troubling and said he had asked his attorney general to review the way in which the death penalty is carried out.

Following the passing of the new law in Tennessee, the bill's House sponsor Representative Dennis Powers, who confirmed the bill was signed by Governor Bill Haslam, said: “It gives us another option out there. We've had so many problems with lethal injection.”

But Richard Dieter, executive director for the Death Penalty Information Centre, which tracks executions, said that court battles would likely erupt if an inmate were sentenced to the chair.

“There certainly have been some gruesome electrocutions in the past and that would weigh on courts' minds,” he said.

Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr. issued an advisory opinion stating that electrocution is constitutionally defensible as an execution method earlier this year.

Tennessee last executed an inmate in 2009 and the next execution is scheduled for October. The state corrections department has said it is confident of being able to secure drugs when needed. It has also said its electric chair is operational.

Additional reporting by agencies

Read more: Clayton Lockett execution
Longest-serving death row prisoner released
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test