South Carolina Death Row Inmate Picks Firing Squad Chair Over Electric ChairThe State of South Carolina has facilities for firing squad executions. The South Carolina Supreme Court must approve executions by firing squad‚ and the state does not use lethal injection as its primary method. However‚ firing squads have some advantages. Lethal injections are less invasive than firing squads‚ and a firing squad execution can save time. So‚ why are firing squads still used?
Fire-squad chairA South Carolina death row inmate chose a firing squad chair over an electric one. Many have questioned the constitutionality of either method of execution‚ but one prisoner opted for the firing squad chair. The state recently approved a bill that will allow executions to take place with electric chairs‚ firing squads or teams of gunmen. The controversial bill was signed into law by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. The decision to use the firing squad chair over the electric chair was a landmark moment in the state's history. Richard Moore‚ who was sentenced to death for the 1999 murder of a convenience store clerk‚ had spent more than two decades on death row. His execution was delayed for two years when officials were unable to secure lethal injection drugs. The South Carolina death row inmate said that the delay caused him to consider an alternative method of execution. The state's Department of Corrections has spent $53‚000 renovating the death chamber. They also installed bullet-resistant glass between the firing chamber and the witness room. The firing squad consists of three volunteers who are trained to use rifles to target the heart. The inmate has the opportunity to make a final statement before being executed. He will be strapped to a metal chair‚ with a hood on his head and a small aim point over his heart. The state of South Carolina has 37 inmates on death row. Since it has not executed anyone in more than a decade‚ the death penalty remains an option in South Carolina. However‚ Democrats believe the state is simply appealing to the Trump base by embracing the death penalty. And in some cases‚ the execution can't happen at all. So‚ the state of South Carolina is deciding between a firing squad and an electric chair.
Lethal injectionRichard Moore has spent over two decades on death row. The convict of murdering convenience store clerk James Mahoney in Spartanburg in 1999 has chosen a firing squad over lethal injection‚ and it is likely to be the first execution in the state since 2011. Moore's case is likely to be the first executed by firing squad in more than half a century‚ as the South Carolina Department of Corrections has struggled with procuring lethal injection drugs. In 2011‚ South Carolina halted executions because correction officials could not procure drugs for lethal injection. This led to the state's third execution method: the firing squad. This method allows three prisoners to fire rifles at the victim's heart. While lethal injection has a long history of resulting in a death‚ it is not as safe. The lethal injection method is also controversial. Correction officials have said that firing squad executions are the best way to ensure the safety of prison inmates. Richard Bernard Moore is set to be executed by the firing squad in South Carolina on April 29‚ making him the first death row inmate to be executed by a firing squad in more than a decade. Moore has pleaded with the state Supreme Court to prevent the execution‚ as his execution would be the state's first by firing squad. Currently‚ the state is reviewing the constitutionality of its capital punishment methods. Last year‚ South Carolina changed its lethal injection procedure to elect a firing squad as the default method. In a rare change of hearts‚ Gary Moore has chosen to execute himself by firing squad instead of lethal injection. His attorneys have filed an appeal in the state supreme court seeking a stay on the execution. The state's state Supreme Court rejected a similar appeal by Moore's attorneys last week. A delay in the execution is not a sure thing‚ but the state's efforts are admirable.
Electric chairThe first inmate on South Carolina's death row to choose the firing squad over the electric chair is Richard Bernard Moore. He was convicted of murdering a Spartanburg store clerk in 1999 and was scheduled for execution by lethal injection in 2020‚ but officials could not secure the drugs necessary to administer the injection. In response‚ Moore chose the firing squad. Moore's attorneys are asking the state Supreme Court to halt the execution. Earlier this year‚ a South Carolina death row inmate‚ Richard B. Moore‚ chose a firing squad over an electric chair‚ saying both methods are cruel and unusual. The judge agreed‚ allowing the lawsuit to continue. He represents the state's incarcerated men‚ including Sigmon‚ who is the next in line for execution. Despite the legal controversy surrounding lethal injection‚ he chose the firing squad because it is the least painful option. As an alternative‚ the state's corrections department published new execution protocols‚ which include the addition of bullet-resistant glass in the witness room. The firing squad members will stand in a wall opening 15 feet away from the inmate‚ facing them. After the inmate is strapped to the metal chair‚ a hood will be placed over his head and a small aim point over his heart. The firing squad will be completely hidden from the public‚ so it is impossible for any witnesses to see the inmate's face. The South Carolina Department of Corrections recently spent $53‚000 renovating the death chamber and installed bullet-resistant glass between the witness room and firing squad. If the death chamber was ready‚ executions could resume in the state soon. However‚ there is no clear date as to when executions will resume. The controversial legislation has been met with pushback from human rights organizations and civil liberties groups‚ including the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina.
Other methodsThe state of South Carolina is among the few states where death row inmates can choose the method of execution‚ and it's not just about the electric chair. The state recently passed a law that would allow firing squad executions. The new law‚ signed by Gov. Henry McMaster‚ obviates the problems that plague the electric chair and firing squad. Proponents of alternative methods say that both methods are inhumane. But in recent years‚ a change in state law has led to a controversy over the death penalty. The state has been attempting to implement new procedures for execution‚ including using a hood‚ placing the target over the heart‚ and placing the shooting squad members 15 feet away. Prisoners are challenging the new protocol as barbaric‚ and they've also filed lawsuits challenging the electric chair and other elements of state law. Despite the high level of scrutiny surrounding executions‚ prisoners and their families have said that they're worried about a high level of error. In recent years‚ however‚ the state has struggled to secure reliable execution drugs‚ leading to high-profile cases of lethal injections that went wrong. While lethal injections are the most common method of execution‚ other methods are increasingly being used as alternatives to this method. For example‚ the firing squad involves line shooters who fire bullets into the heart of the inmate. Despite these complications‚ firing squad executions still remain the most popular method in South Carolina. Executions are not the only way to end the life sentence of death row inmates. Across the country‚ more than one-third of the state's inmates are still on death row‚ and this trend is expected to continue. The state's lethal injection drugs have been expiring since 2013‚ and the state's government has not been able to get them for the last few years. The electric chair was first used in South Carolina in August 1912. The death chamber at the Capital Punishment Facility is the same area as the one used for lethal injections. The Associated Press' reporter was part of a program called Statehouse News Initiative that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on issues that might otherwise not get covered in mainstream media. The reporters reported on this case by interviewing people who were involved in the execution.
The S.C. Department of Corrections just released this photo showing the renovated Capital Punishment Facility as seen from the witness room. The firing squad chair is on the left. The covered chair is the electric chair, which doesn't move. https://t.co/wj0GP0pyKV #scpol #scnews pic.twitter.com/mRdSZDEscY — Caitlin Byrd (@MaryCaitlinByrd) April 15, 2022