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Death by firing squad possible in U.S. state
Posted By Chelsea Schilling On 01/28/2009 @ 9:35 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
British firing squad stages execution of German spy during World War I
One state lawmaker is proposing a bill to expand the death penalty and force people convicted of homicide to face execution by a five-officer firing squad.
New Hampshire State Rep. Delmar Burridge, D-Keene, is sponsoring H.B. 37, a bill providing for execution by firing squad for anyone who causes the death of another person by use of a firearm while engaged in the commission of a felony – an offense that would be considered capital murder under Burridge’s plan.
According to the bill, the commissioner of the department of corrections will be required to select five peace officers to carry out the execution of defendants convicted of capital murder.
“The commissioner or designee shall ensure that the method of judgment of death specified in the warrant is carried out at a secure correctional facility operated by the department at an hour determined by the department on the date specified in the warrant,” it states.
Current law includes murder of judges, law enforcement personnel, murder for hire, some drug-related homicides and rape-murders as capital offenses, but Burridge is seeking to add homicide during an armed robbery, or other felonies committed with a weapon, to the list – excluding such criminals from the standard death by lethal injection.
“A firing squad is more humane, reliable and quick. And perfectly matches the crime with the punishment,” Burridge said last week.
However, New England Cable News reports the bill has received little support so far.
“It provides for what we consider to be an unconstitutional cruel and unusual type of punishment,” death penalty opponent Ryan Marvin said.
A New Hampshire man, Michael Addison, is currently on death row after he was convicted of slaying a Manchester police officer in 2006. His is scheduled to be the first execution carried out by the state since 1939.
Only two states – Idaho and Oklahoma – currently allow execution by a team of riflemen as an alternative to lethal injection. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, John Albert Taylor was the last U.S. citizen to face death by firing squad in Utah before the state eliminated the practice in 2004. He was put to death on Jan 27, 1996.
Burridge acknowledged his proposal is a long shot. Nonetheless, he believes it could act as a deterrent for potential offenders.
“I think that will thwart or frustrate or just get someone to pause, just for a minute. And that’s sometimes all it takes,” he said.
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