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South Carolina’s legislators voted to reinstate using firing squads in addition to electrocution and lethal injections. There has been a shortage of lethal injection drugs, so they added death by shooting to resume carrying out capital punishment sentences on May 5, 2021. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said he would sign the legislation when it hits his desk.
State representatives voted 66-43 on the bill that would give death row inmates their choice of electrocution or facing a firing squad in the event legal injection drugs are not available. The new legislation will allow the state to provide “victims’ families and loved ones with the justice and closure they are owed by law,” explains Gov. McMaster.
Lethal injection is South Carolina’s primary method, and without drugs, they have been prevented from carrying out a death sentence since 2011.
Before lawmakers cast their vote, Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-District 90) pointed out that three of the state’s 37 inmates have exhausted all of their appeals if the bill passes. Currently, they are waiting for lethal injection drugs for their execution orders to be issued.
Bamberg warned his colleagues that by voting yes, they would be deciding to “kill at least three people.”
The last execution in South Carolina was in 2011; a 36-year-old white man by lethal injection, according to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).
South Carolina is among eight states still using an electric chair for executions; Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. In addition to South Carolina, three other states use firing squads — Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah.
Since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1977, three people have been executed by a firing squad.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
FOX News: South Carolina to bring back firing squads for executions; by Louis Casiano
FOX 12 Oregon: South Carolina adds firing squad to execution methods amid lack of lethal-injection drugs; by Jeffery Collins
The Daily Progress: SC considers electric chair, firing squads to end state’s execution impasse; by Jeffery Collins
Death Penalty Information Center: South Carolina
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