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In a time where most red states are proposing anti-voter bills, South Carolina has chosen a curious topic of legislation: death by firing squad. Thanks to a shortage of drugs for lethal injection, South Carolina lawmakers have passed a bill that would bring back the firing squad for inmates on death row.
Democrat calls it “more humane” than electric chair
The bill, which is likely to be signed into law quickly, has bipartisan support. First proposed by state Senator Richard A. Harpootlian, a Democrat, supporters have claimed that it’s more humane than the electric chair. “It’s an extraordinarily gruesome, horrendous process,” Mr. Harpootlian said of electrocution by chair, another option for inmates who have been sentenced to death.
Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah all offer the option of death by firing squad. Currently, South Carolina has 37 prisoners on death row. The state hasn’t executed a prisoner in over a decade.
Bill certain to pass
Of the 37 prisoners on death row in South Carolina, three have exhausted their appeals and face imminent death. “It would not sit well on my conscience,” said Rep. Jermaine Johnson, D-Richland, about the vote to advance the bill. “Especially in a state where we claim to be pro-life, and we claim to believe in individuals and their rights to live and survive, but we are literally talking about a bill today that if this stuff passes we are literally signing their death certificates,” he added.
Historically, at least two people on death row in South Carolina have been exonerated, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
While injection with lethal drugs are the most common form of death by inmates facing death row, in the last few years there has been a shortage of the drugs. This has led several states to look for other means, including Oklahoma, which has tried to approve other lethal drugs.
The bill is expected to be signed next week.