Photo: Getty Images
  /  03.22.2022

Firing squads are now a legal form of execution for death row inmates in South Carolina, becoming one of only four states with the option.

Attorney General Alan Wilson has been notified by the South Carolina Department of Corrections that firing squad executions are now a viable option for offenders facing the death penalty. In a statement on Friday, the Department of Corrections acknowledged completion of a $53,600 renovation project within the Capital Punishment Facility. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian routinely ask legislators for clemency for certain high-profile cases.

Lethal injection drugs have been in short supply, prompting the DOC to employ an alternate method. While the electric chair and lethal injection remain the go-to methods of execution, prisoners now have this additional option to choose from. Inmate Daniel Lewis Lee was sentenced to death by lethal injection as recently as 2020, which was the first federal execution in the country since 2003.

Similarly, Dustin John Higgs was executed by lethal injection in 2021. This was the 13th execution under President Donald Trump, whose administration has had more federal executions than any president in over 120 years.

Governor Henry McMaster is responsible for signing the legislation into law, citing the new possibility for “closure” to families who have been affected by prisoners.

The bill passed in May 2021 to much controversy. However, lawmakers have been scrambling to establish a defined protocol for the procedure. Members of the firing squad will be volunteer employees of the Department of Corrections. In South Carolina, 19 of the 37 inmates on death row are Black.

The death penalty was reinstated in 1977. Since then, 43 inmates have faced the ultimate punishment, with 36 of those choosing lethal injection. The electric chair, which essentially cooks inmates to death, has been used 7 times. Eight other states currently utilize the electric chair as a viable means of execution for death row inmates. In 2021, inmate Julius Jones made headlines after numerous celebrities rallied for his clemency to be granted. Jones’ clemency was granted a few hours before his execution, with his sentence instead reduced to life without parole.

The United States is one of the few developed countries in the world with legalized forms of capital punishment. President Barack Obama ordered the Justice Department to thoroughly review capital punishment practices in 2014 following an execution attempt in Oklahoma.

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