Judge rules firing squads and electrocutions unconstitutional in SC

The firing squad chamber.
The firing squad chamber.(South Carolina Department of Corrections)
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 5:56 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Richland County judge ruled Tuesday that firing squads and electrocutions are unconstitutional in South Carolina.

Judge Jocelyn Newman ruled in the case involving four death row inmates against the State of South Carolina. She granted declaratory and injunctive relief for the inmates, writing,

“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. In doing so, the General Assembly ignored advances in scientific research and evolving standards of humanity and decency.”

Newman’s ruling found the state’s use of firing squads and electrocution is in violation of the SC Constitution and its prohibition on cruel, corporal, or unusual punishments. It additionally said the state is permanently prevented from executing the inmates by electrocution or firing squad.

One of the inmates in the lawsuit, Richard Bernard Moore, was scheduled earlier in the year to be the first person executed by firing squad in the state after the legislature added the option for prisoner executions. Through legal appeals, Moore’s execution was delayed while the court considered the case.


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