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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Mississippi Could Legalize Firing Squads For Death Row Inmates

The state could execute prisoners by firing squad if lethal injection proves too burdensome.

By Matt Picht | March 29, 2016

As a method of state execution, lethal injections are increasingly expensive, difficult and unreliable. Mississippi is considering a different approach.

A bill currently under consideration in the state Senate after passing the House would enable prisoners to be executed by firing squad if lethal injection is unavailable or cost prohibitive. Gov. Phil Bryant supports the bill.

"We need to carry out a capital punishment when the courts say it's necessary. And if it takes a firing squad, we'll do that," Bryant told WJTV.

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Lethal injection is still the primary means of execution across the country, but a shortage of the drugs used in the procedure has left states scrambling for alternatives, which in turn has led to several botched executions with experimental drug cocktails in Oklahoma.

Mississippi won't be the only state with firing squads. Last year, Utah authorized the use of firing squads if lethal injection drugs were unavailable. Firing squads are also technically on the books in Oklahoma but can only be used if lethal injection and electrocution are first declared unconstitutional.

This video includes images Florida Department of Corrections and Ken Piorkowski / CC BY SA 2.0 and clips from U.S. National Archives and Records AdministrationCBS and KSTU.

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