South Carolina’s senators have voted to allow executions in the state to be performed by firing squad, if lethal injection is not possible, as part of a bill that added the electric chair as the default second option, Newsweek reports.
The bill originally just added the electric chair as the default back-up option if a lethal injection could not be performed for an execution, but an amendment later added the firing squad as another option. The South Carolina Senate voted 32-11 for a second reading of the bill on Tuesday.
Republican Sen. Greg Hembree, one of the bill’s co-sponsors and a former prosecutor, said in support of the bill on the Senate floor that a firing squad is a more humane option than the electric chair, though he said both are less humane than lethal injection.
“Carrying out justice is important,” Hembree said. “But you don’t want to torture anybody needlessly. That’s not the government’s place.”
Democrat Sen. Dick Harpootlian, who opposes the death penalty, supported Hembree, noting that the state is unlikely to abolish the death penalty in the near future.
“If we’re going to have it, it should be humane,” Harpootlian said.
However, other Democrats in the South Carolina Senate spoke out against the bill and argued generally against the death penalty, noting in particular that although only one-quarter of the state’s residents are Black, more than half the inmates on death row in South Carolina are Black.
The last execution in South Carolina was carried out in May 2011, and the Death Penalty Information Center reports that the state’s supply of lethal injection drugs expired in 2013.
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