Gov. Gary Herbert says he's leaning toward signing a bill bringing back the firing squad as a method of execution in Utah.
HB 11, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, would institute the firing squad if the chemicals used in lethal injection are not available. That's a distinct possibility given that Akorn Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures midazolam, a chemical used in executions, announced it will not sell its product to prisons. They are just the latest company to do so.
Herbert, in his monthly KUED press conference, says he hopes the state doesn't have to perform any executions, but it's a good idea to have an alternative method if need be.
"It's becoming harder to find those drugs, so it's good to have a fallback," he said. "Other states use hanging, electric chair or the gas chamber."
Herbert says execution is a very rare thing in Utah. The state has performed just seven in the last 40 years. But, he says, it's important to be prepared.
"I don't anticipate any executions in the near future, but we do have eight people on death row," he said. "Getting these drugs has been an issue for the state prison for quite some time. There are avenues for us to get them, but we need to be ready in case we can't."
Herbert stressed the death penalty is not something he takes lightly.
"Should Utah have capital punishment? This is for the most heinous, violent crimes. We don't have many executions because we have a very high bar to meet in Utah when it comes to the death penalty."