New ruling could give South Carolina more leeway for carrying out executions

New ruling could give South Carolina more leeway for carrying out executions

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A new ruling from South Carolina's attorney general could give the state more leeway to execute convicted killers.

As WIS reported in an investigation back in February, South Carolina has not carried out an execution since 2011.

But opponents of capital punishment have lost ground in the past few weeks.

Earlier in the year, those who think we should be the 20th state to abolish the death penalty felt they had achieved a small victory by managing to stall an effort to maintain secrecy around companies or pharmacies that could supply lethal injection drugs.

South Carolina and others have had problems obtaining those drugs in this country and overseas and that has slowed the pace of executions.

But the South Carolina Attorney General's Office issued an opinion this week saying existing state law already allows state government to keep that drug source information secret.

There are also bills in both the House and Senate aimed at maintaining that confidentiality.

Attorney General opinions are non-binding and Corrections Director Bryan Stirling has indicated he supports the legislation.

Then late last month, the US Supreme Court dealt another setback to capital punishment critics.

The high court said in a 5-4 decision that use of one particular drug called midazolam does not violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Midazolam came under fire in Oklahoma last year after the botched execution of inmate Clayton Lockett.

South Carolina has not used midazolam, but the ruling now appears to leave that option open for any state looking for execution drugs.

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