Executions in South Carolina for death row inmates have been halted by the state’s Supreme Court until prisoners get the choice of a recently legalized firing squad.
The court halted the executions of two inmates by electric chair this month after the inmates could not choose death by lethal injection because officials said they couldn't get the drugs needed for it. They also could not choose death by firing squad, which has not yet been formed by the Department of Corrections, under the state's revised capital punishment law, The Associated Press reported.
The state legalized electrocutions and firing squads for death row inmates last month in order to restart executions in the state, which were delayed by the lack of drugs available to administer lethal injection. Executions in South Carolina have been paused for 10 years as a result, the AP reported.
Brad Sigmon, who was convicted in the 2002 killing of his ex-girlfriend's parents with a baseball bat, was set to be executed Friday. Freddie Owens, who killed a convenience store cashier and has been on and off death row since 1999, was set to be executed on June 25.
Both would have received the electric chair, but the court ruled that they can not be put to death unless they have a choice between death by electrocution or firing squad, according to AP.
“The department is moving ahead with creating policies and procedures for a firing squad,” Chrysti Shain, a spokesperson for the state’s Department of Corrections, said in a statement to The Hill. “We are looking to other states for guidance through this process. We will notify the court when a firing squad becomes an option for executions.”
The agency has previously said it is researching the other states that have formed firing squads, including Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah.