South Carolina still seeking a way to hold executions

This photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows the state's death...
This photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows the state's death chamber in Columbia, S.C., including the electric chair, right, and a firing squad chair, left. A South Carolina judge ruled Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, that the state's newly created execution firing squad, as well as its use of the electric chair, are unconstitutional, siding with four death row inmates in a decision surely to be swiftly appealed as the state struggles to implement its new execution protocols.(AP)
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 5:41 PM EST
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(AP) - As judges decide if the electric chair or a firing squad are legal execution methods in South Carolina, lawmakers are trying to figure out how 14 other states have managed to get the drugs for lethal injections.

The state’s latest attempt to end nearly 12 years without an execution is to pass a law shielding the identities of the company that provides the drugs and any pharmacist or prison employees involved.

A state Senate subcommittee approved the proposed shield law‘s first legislative step on Thursday, voting 3-1 to advance it to the full committee.

The Republican-dominated South Carolina General Assembly has joined the GOP governor in trying to restart executions. About 30 inmates are on death row and four of the condemned are out of appeals, but South Carolina’s last lethal injection drugs expired around 2013, and there’s no legal way to carry out their sentences.

Two years ago, the Legislature passed a law creating a firing squad and giving inmates a choice between dying by bullets to the heart or in the state’s electric chair, which was first used to kill an inmate in 1913. The death chamber in Columbia last used it in 2008.

But that law is on hold, challenged by death row inmates who say both the firing squad and electric chair are constitutionally prohibited cruel and unusual punishments.

The bill now goes on to the full Senate Corrections and Penology Committee.