firing squad

South Carolina Vote to Allow Execution by Firing Squad

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South Carolina state lawmakers have voted to allow death by firing squads as a means of capital punishment.

South Carolina will be the fourth state to allow death by firing squad, following Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah.

The bill has already been approved by the Senate in March, by a vote of 32-11. Republican governor, Henry McMaster, has said he will approve the bill when it arrives at his desk.

“We are one step closer to providing victims’ families and loved ones with the justice and closure they are owed by law,” McMaster tweeted Wednesday after the vote. “I will sign this legislation as soon as it gets to my desk.”

Bill opponents invoked the case of George Stinney, the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 20th century. Stinney faced trial when he was just 14 in 1944. Following a one-day trial, Stinney was sent to the electric chair for killing two white girls. A judge threw out the conviction in 2014.

“So not only did South Carolina give the electric chair to the youngest person ever in America, but the boy was innocent,” said Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg.

“It would not sit well on my conscience,” said Rep. Jermaine Johnson. “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 said.

The death penalty will likely only be used when the state is out of drugs. Lethal injection remains the state’s primary mode of capital punishment. However, The Associated Press reports that shortages have been reported as many drug companies have discontinued selling drugs to states.

Sen. Dick Harpootlian insists it is a more humane option than the electric chair. Harpootlian will leave it up to the Department of Corrections and the agency’s director Bryan Stirling to decide how the firing squad would be carried out in the state.

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