COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Due to a lack of lethal injection drugs, South Carolina has not carried out an execution since 2011.
Under South Carolina law, when someone is sentenced to death they can choose between lethal injection or electrocution.
The last time an inmate opted for the electric chair was in 2008. Right now, lethal injection is the primary method of execution in the state.
South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said the lack of a state shield law has made it difficult to get the lethal injection drugs from the companies that provide them.
“We’ve been trying this since 2014. After a year or so I went to the legislature and told them we could not obtain the drugs to carry out an execution,” Stirling said.
He said they are keeping a close eye on two bills that are moving through the State House that would make electrocution the primary method of execution in the state.
Stirling said, “My role as the head of Department Corrections of the state is to follow the law and carry out the courts orders.”
Senators passed their bill Wednesday afternoon. Their bill includes death by firing squad as an option. That proposal got bipartisan support on the floor.
One of the co-sponsors of that amendment, Senator Greg Hembree (R-District 28) said, “”There’s nothing pleasant about it. Executions are gruesome and sad and tragic in a way. Justice is not always a happy place but it is justice.”
The ACLU of South Carolina said they oppose the legislation. Executive Director Frank Knaack said South Carolina’s death penalty system is broken.
“At the most foundational level, what concerns us is that the legislature is taking time to continue to debate the method of execution instead of taking time and making sure we have a just fair and accurate justice system,” he said.
The Senate’s bill is now on it’s way to the House. The House’s bill is awaiting debate on the floor.
Right now, there are 37 men on Death Row in SCDC custody.