US state forces death row inmates to choose electric chair or firing squad | Voice of America

The U.S. state of South Carolina introduced a law requiring death row inmates to choose between a firing squad and an electric chair after a lack of lethal injection drugs halted executions for a decade.

“This weekend, I passed a law that will allow the state to carry out a death sentence. The families and relatives of the victims have the right to closure and to justice by law. Now we can deliver it, ”Governor Henry McMaster said on Twitter. .

McMaster, a Republican, wants to resume executions after a 10-year hiatus caused by a shortage of drugs used in lethal injections.

Before the break, death row inmates chose between the electric chair and the injection, with the injection being given if no choice was made.

The new law, signed on Friday, makes the electric chair the default option if lethal injection is not available, and creates the alternative option of a firing squad.

Local prisoner advocacy group the Incarcerated Outreach Network called the move “appalling, shocking, odious”, while the South Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said it was ” to find a new way of resuming executions in a racist, arbitrary and erroneous spirit. – prone system. ”

“The South Carolina criminal justice system makes mistakes,” Frank Knaack, ACLU executive director for the state, said in a statement.

“Yet capital punishment is irreversible. … Blacks make up more than half of South Carolina’s death row inmates, while they make up only 27% of the state’s population.”

The electric chair has not been used in South Carolina since 2008, and the last execution by lethal injection was in 2011, according to the state Department of Corrections.

South Carolina is the fourth U.S. state to allow firing squad death, along with Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Only three convicts have died in front of a firing squad, all in Utah, since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the center.

An acute shortage of deadly drugs used in lethal injections has been going on for several years, with several large labs refusing to stock US prisons to avoid being associated with the death penalty.

Lethal injections are usually performed by the successive administration of three substances: the first causes a coma, the second paralyzes and the third stops the heart.

But in several executions in recent years, the first drug failed to render the prisoners completely unconscious, causing them intense suffering before their death.

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