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Plan to make electric chair, firing squad SC execution methods inches closer to law

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 12:12 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - The South Carolina House has taken one of the final steps needed to make add a firing squad to the state’s execution methods amid a lack of lethal-injection drugs.

The chamber’s 66-43 vote Wednesday will be followed Thursday by a procedural vote and then the Senate would have to approve technical changes the House made in the bill.

“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 wrote in a tweet after the bill’s passage.

The bill is meant to jump-start executions in a state that used to have one of the busiest death chambers in the country.

The last execution was carried out 10 years ago.

The bill would require death row inmates to choose between the firing squad and the electric chair if lethal- injection drugs aren’t available.

Under current law, inmates on death row are sentenced to die by lethal injection unless they choose the electric chair. But there is a nationwide shortage of the drugs required for lethal injection.

Of the inmates currently on death row, two have had their executions stayed, one recently received their death order, according to the Department of Corrections.

During hours of debate, Democrats said they were concerned the law would lead to the death of potentially innocent people.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there have been two notable exonerations of people on death row in South Carolina.

Utah, Mississippi, and Oklahoma are the only other states currently allowing the use of a firing squad for executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

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