SC judge says electric chair, firing squad are unconstitutional

The latest on the execution debate in South Carolina
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 5:48 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 5:51 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - On Tuesday a judge ruled in favor of four South Carolina death row inmates, saying executions carried out by electrocution and firing squad violate the state’s constitution.

Freddie Owens, Brad Sigmon, Gary Terry and Richard Moore, all convicted of murder, sued the South Carolina Department of Corrections, SCDOC director Bryan Stirling and Governor Henry McMaster, saying the execution methods available are cruel and unusual punishment.

South Carolina has not been able to obtain lethal injection drugs and has given death row inmates the choice between the firing squad or electric chair.

Judge Jocelyn Newman’s ruling bars South Carolina from executing inmates by either method.

“In 2021, South Carolina turned back the clock and became the only state in the country in which a person may be forced into the electric chair if he refuses to elect how he will die,” Newman wrote in the ruling. “In doing so, the General Assembly ignored advances in scientific research and evolving standards of humanity and decency.”

The ruling could be appealed.

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