South Carolina Reinstitutes Firing Squads
South Carolina is ready to execute death-row inmates by firing squad, the state said Friday.
Last May, the state’s lawmakers approved death penalty legislation that gave inmates the option of selecting a firing squad as their method of execution.
In June, the South Carolina Supreme Court put the deaths of two inmates on hold because the state did not have procedures in place to offer that option, according to the Associated Press.
The state Department of Corrections told the state Attorney General’s office on Friday that everything was in place, according to the Greenville News. South Carolina has 35 inmates on death row.
The state’s Department of Corrections spent about $53,600 to create a place in its execution facility to shoot an inmate to death, according to Department of Corrections spokesperson Chrysti Shain.
The cost includes buying rifles and renovations for the use of the facility. All that stands in the way of it being operational is a go-ahead from the state Supreme Court.
Inmates who want to die by a firing squad will be strapped to a chair in the same room as the state’s electric chair, which is more than a century old and cannot be moved.
Inmates waiting to be executed will face a wall that has an opening through which the firing squad will do its work.
Witnesses will not see the firing squad, but they will see the inmate in profile as the execution takes place.
Once the inmate is strapped down and has a hood placed over the inmate’s head, an aim point will be placed over the heart.
South Carolina’s protocols call for three people to do the shooting, all with live rounds.
Those making up a firing squad will be chosen from volunteers who work for the state Department of Corrections.
The state’s use of a firing squad was proposed by Democratic state Sen. Dick Harpootlian who said it was the “the least painful” method of execution.
“The death penalty is going to stay the law here for a while,” Harpootlian said. “If we’re going to have it, it ought to be humane.”
The first to use the firing squad will likely be inmates Brad Sigmon and Freddie Owens, who had both been scheduled to be executed last June.
Sigmon was sentenced to be executed in 2002 after being convicted of murder in a 2001 crime.
Owens was sentenced in 1999 after a conviction in a 1997 murder and later confessed to killing a fellow inmate.
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