South Carolina House votes to add firing squad as execution method
The South Carolina House voted on Wednesday to add firing squads as an execution method for prisoners.
The bill passed in a 66-43 vote, with one Democrat voting in favor and seven Republicans voting against it, The Associated Press reported.
The South Carolina Senate passed a similar bill in a 32-11 vote in March.
The bill would require a death row inmate set for execution to choose between a firing squad and the electric chair if the drugs for a lethal injection are not available, which is increasingly a factor in multiple states.
The AP reports that South Carolina is one of only nine states to still use the electric chair and would with the new legislation become one of four that uses firing squads.
Since the House only made technical changes to the Senate bill, the Senate just has to sign off on it before it is sent to Gov. Henry McMaster’s (R) desk. McMaster has said before that he will sign the bill, the AP reported.
South Carolina has 37 death row inmates, with three of them being out of appeals.
States across the country have seen reduced use of capital punishment in recent years. South Carolina hasn’t executed a prisoner in a decade, in part because the current laws are stymied when the condemned choose lethal injection and none are available.
“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,” state Rep. Weston Newton (R) said, according to the AP.
More than a dozen executions took place at the federal level under former President Trump, but that practice has stopped under President Biden.
Only three prisoners, all in Utah, have been killed by firing squad since the death penalty returned in 1977.
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