Death penalty in the United States: firing squad introduced in South Carolina
Eva Deschamps / May 18, 2021
This weekend, I ratified a law that will allow the state to implement the death penalty. The families and loved ones of the victims have the right to grieve and seek justice through the law. Now we can do it, Henry McMaster explained on Twitter.
The pro-death penalty Republican wants to resume executions after a ten-year hiatus in his state due to a shortage of substances used in lethal injections.
The law, signed Friday, makes the electric chair the first choice for a death row inmate instead of lethal injection, and authorizes a firing squad, which becomes the second option.
Execution by injection will again become the priority option when the necessary substances are again available, according to the text.
Until now, a death row inmate had to choose between the chair and the injection, the latter option being automatic if he refused to choose.
The South Carolina-based prisoner assistance organization Incarcerated Outreach Network denounced on Twitter an appalling, shocking and abominable decision.
Frank Knaack, the local representative of the major civil rights organization ACLU, said the state has found a new way to restart executions in a racist, arbitrary and error-prone system.
South Carolina's justice system makes mistakes, but capital punishment is irreversible, he added in a statement, noting that people of color make up more than half of those on death row, but only 27 percent of the state's population.
South Carolina is the fourth U.S. state to allow capital punishment by firing squad, along with Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah, according to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).
Only three convicts have died before a firing squad, all in Utah, since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, according to the Center.