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Group against capital punishment protests firing squad bill

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Posted at 7:20 PM, Jan 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-27 21:22:02-05

BY KELLY KEITER

SALT LAKE CITY – A group of protesters from Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty gathered at the State Capitol Tuesday afternoon.  They're against a bill drafted by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, who wants to bring the firing squad back to the state. Ray is also hoping human traffickers will face the death penalty.

Ralph Dellapiana, Director of Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said there is no humane way to kill death row convicts.

"Execution by firing squads sends a very graphic message that goes completely against the sanctity of life that I think most Utahns have a great respect for," Dellapiana said.

The firing squad was outlawed in Utah in 2004, but the Republican lawmaker is hoping to bring it back.

“You know, we’re not looking at some of the local molestation cases that we deal with, we’re talking trafficking rings,” Ray said. “We’re looking at guys who are doing actual kidnapping and taking children and moving them around for sex purposes.”

Ray is currently drafting a new bill to impose the death penalty on sex traffickers. He said it was inspired, in part, by Attorney General Sean Reyes’ recent undercover operation to bust a sex trafficking ring in South America.

Captured in a documentary that is airing at Sundance, Reyes flew to Columbia and helped rescue more than 120 girls from the ring.

Members of the group Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty say they are against all forms of capital punishment and believe convicts should serve out a life sentence.

“Even the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Ray, admits the firing squad will bring a circus atmosphere to executions in Utah,” Dellapiana said.

Ray said he believes the death penalty is a just punishment for these types of criminals. He said he's not hoping to bring back the firing squad because he believes lethal injection is inhumane, rather that the firing squad is a faster and more effective method of execution.

“I support the death penalty,” he said. “I believe there are certain consequence for actions and that’s one of them.”