The South Carolina State House agreed on Wednesday to restore the firing squad to the state’s execution procedures.
The law, which was passed by a vote of 66-43, would require death-row prisoners to choose either a firing squad or electrocution if lethal injection medications are not accessible at the time of their scheduled execution.
The Senate passed a similar bill by a vote of 32-11 in March, which ensures the bill will most likely be sent to Republican Governor Henry McMaster, who has already stated his promise to sign it into law.
“We are one step closer to providing victims’ families and loved ones with the justice and closure they are owed by law. I will sign this legislation as soon as it gets to my desk,” McMaster tweeted after the vote.
We are one step closer to providing victims’ families and loved ones with the justice and closure they are owed by law. I will sign this legislation as soon as it gets to my desk.
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) May 5, 2021
South Carolina will be the fourth state to allow a firing squad when it signed into law.
South Carolina has failed to secure lethal injection medications, as do other states with capital punishment. Which one Republican found to be unfair.
“Those families of victims to these capital crimes are unable to get any closure because we are caught in this limbo stage where every potential appeal has been exhausted and the legally imposed sentences cannot be carried out,” said state Rep. Weston Newton.
The South Carolina House has voted to add the firing squad to the state’s execution methods amid a lack of lethal-injection drugs. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who has said he’ll sign it. https://t.co/JmhwZYlDHq
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 5, 2021
Before the vote, a Democrat stated that if they endorse the measure, legislators would have blood on their hands.
“Three living, breathing human beings with a heartbeat that this bill is aimed at killing. If you push the green button at the end of the day and vote to pass this bill out of this body, you may as well be throwing the switch yourself,” said state Rep. Bamberg.
“Somehow, here today we find ourselves in the position in this body to once again give a voice to that belief system that in this state, we’re a state about life, while simultaneously taking up a bill that’s not about life, that doesn’t cater to the ‘belief system’ in our state that its a state of life. This is about death,” Bamberg also shared.
“The lack of drugs, and decisions by prosecutors to seek guilty pleas with guaranteed life sentences over death penalty trials, have cut the state’s death row population nearly in half — from 60 to 37 inmates — since the last execution was carried out in 2011. From 2000 to 2010, the state averaged just under two executions a year,” AP reported.
“South Carolina can’t put anyone to death now because its supply of lethal-injection drugs expired and it has not been able to buy any more. Currently, inmates can choose between the electric chair and lethal injection. Since the drugs are not available, they choose injection,” AP reported.
“South Carolina first began using the electric chair in 1912 after taking over the death penalty from individual counties, which usually hanged prisoners. The other three states that allow a firing squad are Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah, according to the Death Penalty Information Center,” the outlet also found.