South Carolina Brought Back The Electric Chair and Firing Squad?
Recently in South Carolina, a new law has been put in place regarding executions for death row inmates. South Carolina’s Governor, Henry McMaster, has signed to approve the electric chair and firing squad option if lethal injection is not available for executions. With this new law being implemented, inmates in South Carolina would have to choose between the two options.
Many inmates sentenced in South Carolina prisons have problems with the new law -stating that they have to choose between an electric chair and a firing squad. They do not believe that they should decide how they die if they were told previously how they would. Therefore, they call this decision “unconstitutional.”
The death penalty is legal, but no inmate since 2011 has been put to death because of the inability to get the drug for lethal injection. Freddie Owens, a death row inmate in South Carolina, is expected to be executed on June 25. Owens is on death row for fatally shooting a convenience store clerk. The South Carolina Supreme Court scheduled another execution date for prisoner Brad Sigmon.
Both Owens and Sigmond’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against the new law stating “that they can’t be electrocuted or shot because he was sentenced under an old law that made lethal injection the default execution method” (Associated Press, WLTX). As state legislators are still creating protocols for a firing squad, this option is not available for inmates. Brad Sigmon's attorney points out what this would mean for his client, "the only option for Sigmon would be the electric chair” (Associated Press, WLTX).
The issue for inmates, attorneys, executioners, and death row officials is that the state law is being implemented while not yet finalized. The law would now require inmates to choose between an electric chair and a firing squad. Since it is not completed, there is no decision to be made for the prisoners because the decision is practically made for them.
While inmates are on death row for horrendous crimes, that does not mean they do not have human rights. They are told that they have to choose between two terrifying methods to die after being told they would pass by lethal injection. They are mad about how they are not being heard because of their place and status amongst the ones creating these laws.