Capital punishment in Idaho
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (October 2010)|
Capital punishment was reinstated in Idaho on July 7, 1973, after the United States Supreme Court struck down all death penalty statutes across the country in 1972 Furman v. Georgia decision. The 1976 case Gregg v. Georgia lifted an almost ten-year moratorium of executions in the United States, but Idaho waited until 1994 to execute its first inmate.
Three crimes in Idaho are punishable by death:
- First-degree murder with aggravating factors
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Perjury causing execution of an innocent person
Sentencing and clemency
Idaho is one of the very few states where commutation of death sentences is determined solely by a Board on which the Governor of Idaho does not sit. Only two other states (Georgia and Connecticut) share the same system, while in Nebraska, Utah, and Nevada the Governor sits on the board.
Charles Fain was released in 2001 from death row after serving almost 18 years for a crime that he did not commit.
Methods of execution
Lethal injection is the sole method of execution used by the State of Idaho. Between the reinstatement of capital punishment in Idaho and the state's adoption of lethal injection, firing squad was the standard method, but was never actually used. After lethal injection was introduced, firing squad was offered as an option, but on April 1, 2009, governor C.L.S "Butch" Otter signed into law legislation ending the practice. This law went into effect July 1, 2009. The only way that any inmate would be able to be executed by firing squad would be if lethal injection was found to be "impractical".
Individuals executed by the State of Idaho
Three inmates have been executed in Idaho after 1977. Keith Wells waived his appeals and asked that the execution be carried out.
|Name||Date of Execution||Method||Victim||Governor|
|1||Keith Wells||January 6, 1994||lethal injection||John Justad and Brandis Rains||Cecil D. Andrus|
|2||Paul Ezra Rhoades||November 18, 2011||lethal injection||Susan Michelbacher and Stacy Dawn Baldwin||C.L. "Butch" Otter|
|3||Richard Albert Leavitt||June 12, 2012||lethal injection||Danette Jean Elg|
In pre-Furman period, Idaho executed 26 men between 1864 and 1957. Of these, 14 executions were prior to Statehood, 12 since. Idaho has never executed a woman, and all executions were carried out by hanging.
- Death Penalty Information Center
- Crimes Punishable by the Death Penalty
- Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005)
- Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002)
- Regional Studies The West
- List of Idaho's pre-Furman executions
- Death Sentences. Idaho Department of Correction. Updated on 2011-06-12.
- Idaho execution chamber photo (used only once for Keith Wells, volunteer)