This past Wednesday, the State House of South Carolina voted to add the firing squad to the list of the state’s execution methods.
The bill was approved by a vote of 66-43 and will mandate that death row inmates choose their execution by either firing squad or electrocution in the even that the drugs required for lethal injection are not available at the scheduled execution time. The Senate has already approved a similar bill back in March with a vote of 32-11. This means that the bill will most likely be seeing a trip to the desk of Republican Governor Henry McMaster, who has stated that he already plans to sign it.
“We are one step closer to providing victims’ families and loved ones with the justice and closure they are owed by law,” McMaster stated in a tweet this past Wednesday after the vote. “I will sign this legislation as soon as it gets to my desk.”
The S.C House has given second reading to a bill that will restore the state’s ability to carry out the death penalty.https://t.co/UXdMWpCu4D
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) May 5, 2021
South Carolina will be the fourth state to allow execution by firing squad once it is signed into law.
Just like other states that use capital punishment, South Carolina has seen struggles in securing the drugs to perform lethal injections, and one Republican stated that it’s not fair.
“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,” stated state Rep. Weston Newton.
To steer clear of executions, prosecutors have gone to seek guilty pleas “with guaranteed life sentences over death penalty trials, have cut the state’s death row population nearly in half — from 60 to 37 inmates — since the last execution was carried out in 2011,” reported the Associated Press. “From 2000 to 2010, the state averaged just under two executions a year.”
One state democrat stated, before the vote took place, that lawmakers will be responsible for blood on their hands if they continue their support of the bill.
“Three living, breathing human beings with a heartbeat that this bill is aimed at killing,” stated Rep. Justin Bamberg regarding the bill. “If you push the green button at the end of the day and vote to pass this bill out of this body, you may as well be throwing the switch yourself.”
“Somehow, here today we find ourselves in the position in this body to once again give a voice to that belief system that in this state, we’re a state about life, while simultaneously taking up a bill that’s not about life, that doesn’t cater to the ‘belief system’ in our state that its a state of life,” Bamberg stated. “This is about death.”