The South Carolina Senate voted Wednesday to add firing squads to the state’s execution methods, as an alternative if the state is unable to use lethal injections.
South Carolina has not been able to administer lethal injections since 2016 because of a nation-wide shortage of the drugs needed to perform executions, Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling told The State. Death row inmates in South Carolina are currently allowed to choose either lethal injection or the electric chair for their execution. Because of the drug shortage, inmates are opting for lethal injection, and two executions have already been postponed.
The state Senate’s bill orders prison officials to use an electric chair if lethal injection is not available, while adding the option of a firing squad. The legislation will now be considered in the House, and has received the support of Governor
Proponents of the method, which was proposed by a Republican and Democrat in the Senate, argue that it is more humane than electrocution.
“The death penalty is going to stay the law here for a while. If it is going to remain, it ought to be humane,” State Senator Dick Harpootlian, a Democrat, said in support of the bill. Death by firing squad is “actually the least painful and the least suffering of any manner of death.”
Democratic State Senator Kevin Johnson criticized the measure, referring to the 1944 conviction of 14-year-old African American teenager George Stinney, who was sentenced to the electric chair for the alleged murder of two white girls. A judge threw out Stinney’s conviction in 2014.
“You think it was bad to abort a baby?” Johnson said on Wednesday. “Think how much worse it is to kill a person who when all is said and done is innocent.”