MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - State lawmakers are expected to take a new look at capital punishment in Mississippi.
Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall) said lawmakers will consider alternative methods for execution if courts rule lethal injection is unconstitutional or drugs are unavailable.
"Many states are going to pass legislation or already have passed bills that say in the event that these court challenges to lethal injection are upheld by the courts as cruel and inhumane, we need a plan B," Fillingane said. "You know, what do we fall back to? Many other states have already done this. Mississippi will be looking at a bill similarly that would say in the event that the current form of execution is deem inadmissible or unusable, that we would have a fall back, and that would be like a firing squad, electrocution some of these types of means that we've had in the past that people have considered to be cruel and inhuman."
Oklahoma passed a law in 2015 allowing nitrogen gas and electrocution as means of execution if courts strike down lethal injection or the drugs needed are unavailable, and said a firing squad could be used if none of the previous options are allowed. Fillingane said the change would ensure Mississippi has a way to stay in line with federal rules for executions.
"In my legislative career, there have been effective death penalty federal laws passed, and the Supreme Court from time to time will review different cases from various states that basically say, you know, the death penalty is constitutional, but only in certain circumstances and only if you conduct it in this basic form that is considered humane," Fillingane said. "So from time to time, we do have to review the way we carry out the death penalty in the state, and we don't have that many of them. In fact, I can't even remember the last time we actually had one. It's been a year or two ago, I think, since Mississippi actually carried one out. But for the deterrent effect that the death penalty provides, I'm a very strong supporter of that, and if we're going to have it then we have to abide by the federal rules and regulations in order for those to be carried out effectively, in a timely fashion. So this is yet another way we can be prepared in the event that one of these court challenges is successful, that we have a fallback, and we don't have to wait for a new session to start and come up with an alternative means of execution."
Mississippi has executed 17 people using lethal injection since 2002 and has not executed anyone since 2012.