Firing Squads to Be Brought Back for Executions in South Carolina
The state will become the fourth in the nation to use firing squads
South Carolina is set to bring firing squads as a form of execution methods following the shortage of drugs needed for lethal injections.
The move is part of an effort to resume capital punishment after a decade.
On Wednesday, the state House voted 66-43 on legislation allowing death row inmates to choose between being shot or electrocuted in the event of the unavailability of lethal injection drugs.
The state will become the fourth in the nation to use firing squads.
It is already one of nine that still use the electric chair for execution.
The bill was approved by the state in March.
Following another routine vote in the House, the bill will go to the desk of Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who announced he would sign it.
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."
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
Supporters of the bill say it will deliver justice to violent criminals.
But critics of the bill argued the possibility of innocent people being put to death.
Others brought up the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 20th century, 14-year-old George Stinney.
Stinney was ent to South Carolina’s electric chair after a one-day trial in 1944 for killing two White girls.
But in 2014, the judge threw out the Black teen’s conviction.
The media reported at the time that the traps to keep him in the electric chair didn’t fit around his small frame.
"So not only did South Carolina give the electric chair to the youngest person ever in America, but the boy was innocent," said Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg.
Corrections officials said three of South Carolina's 37 death row inmates are out of appeals and are in line to be executed.
But new death penalty rules are also likely to be met with lawsuits.
Three inmates, all in Utah, have been killed by firing squad since the U.S. reinstated the death penalty in 1977.
Nineteen inmates have died in the electric chair this century.