The United States of America primarily uses lethal injection as its legal method of execution, with only three states previously allowing firing squad: Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah. South Carolina will now the fourth state after Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill, officially adding a firing squad and the electric chair as methods of execution for death row inmates in the state.
South Carolina’s House voted May 5 to pass a bill allowing the two execution methods after it was passed through the Senate. Last Friday, the Republican governor signed it into law. South Carolina has reportedly been experiencing a lack of lethal injection drugs for several years.
“This weekend, I signed legislation into law that will allow the state to carry out a death sentence,” McMaster wrote in a tweet Monday. “The families and loved ones of victims are owed closure and justice by law. Now, we can provide it.”
This weekend, I signed legislation into law that will allow the state to carry out a death sentence.
The families and loved ones of victims are owed closure and justice by law. Now, we can provide it.
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) May 17, 2021
The new bill forces death row inmates in South Carolina to choose between a firing squad and an electric chair should lethal injection not be available. The Associated Press reports that due to a shortage of lethal injection drugs, the last inmate in South Carolina to be executed was killed over 10 years ago.
According to the Associated Press, three inmates in South Carolina have exhausted all their appeals and chosen lethal injection as their method of execution. Due to the shortage and new law, many death row inmates could be left with no choice but to use the state’s 109-year-old eclectic chair or be shot via a firing squad.
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Lindsey Vann, a member of South Carolina’s criminal justice non-profit Justice 360, spoke with the Associated Press about the humane aspect of the execution methods, saying, “These are execution methods that previously were replaced by lethal injection, which is considered more humane, and it makes South Carolina the only state going back to the less humane execution methods.”
Others are split between seeing this as an opportunity to carry out punishment for victims’ families and noticing the marginalized communities who are most likely to be affected by the law and wrongfully sentenced.
What are your thoughts on the new bill? Let us know in the comments.