Firing-squad executions to be allowed in South Carolina

Members of the firing squad must meet certain qualifications and will be volunteer department employees

The state had placed a decade-long pause on carrying out death sentences due to an inability to procure lethal injection drugs. AP
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The US state of South Carolina will allow firing-squad executions if death row inmates should choose the method after it was codified in state law last year, the state's Department of Corrections has announced.

The state had placed a decade-long pause on carrying out death sentences due to an inability to procure lethal injection drugs.

The department said on Friday that renovations have been completed on the death chamber in Columbia, the state capital, and that the agency had notified Attorney General Alan Wilson that it was able to carry out a firing-squad execution, PBS reported.

In May 2021, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, a Republican, signed a bill into law that made the electric chair the state's primary means of execution but allowed inmates the option to instead choose firing squad or lethal injection if available, CNN said.

During South Carolina’s lengthy debate on the issue, Dick Harpootlian — a Democratic state senator and a prosecutor-turned-criminal-defence lawyer — had introduced the firing squad option, arguing it presented “the least painful” execution method available.

“The death penalty is going to stay the law here for a while,” Mr Harpootlian said. “If we’re going to have it, it ought to be humane.”

Members of the firing squad must meet certain qualifications and will be volunteer department employees, a Department of Corrections release said.

CNN said that the department spent about $53,600 to make the necessary changes to accommodate firing-squad executions.

There are currently no scheduled executions in South Carolina.

Capital punishment is currently authorised in 27 states, by the federal government and the US military, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported, though a number of states have rolled back legislation allowing it, replacing it with life in prison without parole.

Nebraska outlawed capital punishment in 2015, but it was reinstated after a statewide referendum the following year.

Updated: March 21, 2022, 2:37 PM
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