South Carolina lawmakers have passed a law allowing death row inmates to be executed by firing squad in the absence of lethal injection drugs. Once signed into law, it would be the fourth state in the country to offer this option as a method of capital punishment. Opponents of the decision have criticized the new measure as “medieval,” but supporters say it is aimed at “avenging victims.”
This southern U.S. state has not carried out executions since 2011. The law passed by the South Carolina House of Representatives, its sponsors explained, is largely aimed at overcoming the difficulty states face in procuring lethal injection drugs. The document will now go to the South Carolina Senate for a final vote before heading to Republican Governor Henry McMaster, who has promised to sign the bill once it reaches his desk.
The state currently has 37 death row inmates on death row. The bill can still be appealed to the courts. South Carolina now offers death row inmates the option of lethal injection or electrocution. Under state law, inmates cannot be forced to die in a way they have not chosen. The 37 death row inmates since 1995, when the injection was first tried, other than the three convicts already executed, have chosen the former, a combination of three drugs that put inmates to sleep, causes paralysis, and then stops the heart. But these drugs have become harder to obtain because manufacturers and distributors do not want their products to be used for capital punishment.