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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Beverley James: Accounts Payable

£22,000 - £23,000: Beverley James: Are you looking for the opportunity to work...

Beverley James: Accounts Assistant

£30,000: Beverley James: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a person looki...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower