The electric chair could make a comeback in South Carolina if this bill passes

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Executioners in South Carolina cannot carry out capital punishment without first some law change, the state's prisons Director Bryan Stirling says.

That could mean more electric chair executions if one bill in the State House becomes law. If an inmate chooses death by lethal injection, that can't happen because there are no drugs for it in South Carolina - a problem many want to be fixed.

There are 36 people on death row in South Carolina. They get the choice of either lethal injection or the electric chair.

"It's a very, very heavy burden to carry to do this," Stirling says.

Stirling says most choose lethal injection, however, that's a sentence that currently can't be carried out.

"We're at a place where we do not know where we would go. We don't know what the solution would be if they do pick lethal injection, which all of them do," he says.

One former prosecutor, now a senator, wants to change that, with two bills in the State House. One would require the electric chair be used when lethal drugs are not available.

"The thought of 36 victims' families being told that they would receive a certain type of justice and then not receive that justice, is something that I cannot stand by and allow to continue," Sen. William Timmons (R- Greenville) says.

The other bill would keep the names of drug providers secret. Some feel that would convince companies to contribute to capital punishment. One victim's advocate supports these bills.

"There's a lot of frustration there," SC Crime Victim's Council's Laura Hudson says.

Upstate serial killer Todd Kohlhepp is used for example as one who would have been prosecuted for death, had lethal injection been an option.

"Of course, the victims thought that they'd be done with him. But that's not the case. He's...selling his handprints. He's not going away," Hudson says.

One attorney opposed to concealing drug providers is one who represents those on death row.

"If the State is going to exercise the awesome power of taking the life of one of its citizens, it must do so with transparency and accountability," Lindsey Vann with Justice 360 said.

Vann says secrecy creates more potential for something to go wrong.

There is one inmate set for execution later this month, but it's expected the court will delay that with a stay of execution. It happened with another inmate last month, too.

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