Mississippi lawmakers are advancing a proposal to add firing squad, electrocution and gas chamber as execution methods in case a court blocks the use of lethal injection drugs.
House Bill 638 is a response to lawsuits filed by “liberal, left-wing radicals,” said House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, a Republican.
The bill passed the House amid opposition Wednesday, and it moves to the Senate for more debate.
Lethal injection is Mississippi’s only execution method. The state faces lawsuits claiming the drugs it plans to use would violate constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.
Jim Craig, an attorney who is suing Mississippi over lethal injection drugs, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that each of the proposed new methods of executions would be challenged in court.
“Every single one, in essence, just injects a whole new series of issues in the existing case,” said Craig, who is with the New Orleans-based Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center.
He said with the firing squad, for example, the state would have to set protocols and procedures to reduce the risk of torture, and he doubts the Department of Corrections has prepared to do that.
Craig would not respond to Gipson’s comment about “radical” lawyers filing lawsuits challenging death penalty methods.
Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is a death penalty supporter and aware of the shortage of execution drugs, spokeswoman Laura Hipp said. He will read the House bill and assign it to a Senate committee for consideration, she said.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant “generally favors the efficient administration of the death penalty in Mississippi” and would review any execution bill before deciding whether to sign it, spokesman Clay Chandler said.