Well, this is an odd turn in the Bryan Kohberger case…
As folks following the case have probably heard, the death penalty is very much on the table for the 28-year-old charged with murdering four University of Idaho students. It’s the big reason choices for a public defender were so limited, as you need special certification to handle capital cases.
We’ve also heard from experts who think political pressure — as well as the wishes of the most vocal family members of the victims — will influence prosecutors to seek the death penalty. If Kohberger is convicted, it’s a pretty sure thing we’re talking capital punishment. But could that punishment take on a very old form??
The Idaho State Senate voted 24-11 on Monday to pass a bill reinstating the firing squad as a method of execution! Wow.
The legislature’s decision is nominally unrelated to Kohberger, but it the bill was introduced in February, over a month after his arrest, by an alumnus of the University of Idaho. It would not be a surprise if he was the first prisoner for whom it was considered — again, assuming his conviction, which seems likely given all the evidence against him.
The firing squad is legal in four other states — Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah and South Carolina — though it’s rarely used, with only three criminals being executed in such a manner since 1976. For Idaho, this is a change from when they banned the practice in 2009. They hadn’t used it in years before that. In the past three decades they’ve only executed three prisoners, all using lethal injection.
As evidenced by the vote, not everyone was on board with the change. Per the Associated Press, Republican Senator Dan Foreman was concerned those involved in the execution — shooters and witnesses — could be traumatized by the event. Is it more traumatic than lethal injection, the gas chamber, or the electric chair? They all seem pretty barbaric when you think about it. But if you’re going to have the death penalty, that’s always going to be true, isn’t it? Not to be overly cynical, but quite a lot of people in this country seem particularly inured to gun violence at this point based on how little is being done to stop school shootings. Just saying…
What do YOU think of the firing squad being brought back, Perezcious readers? Is it worse than more common — and arguably more unusual — methods of execution being used?
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