South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has signed into law a bill that determines how the death sentence is delivered in his state.

Under this new reform, firing squads are now a part of the execution methods used on death row inmates in South Carolina, which previously only included lethal injection as the main option or electric chair. In case of an unavailable drug cocktail to serve, the inmates will be mandated to choose between the other two options or end up being electrocuted if they decide not to choose. 

The new legislation was approved on Friday, May 14, as the state was running out of supplies to perform on the sentenced inmates. 

According to The State, as South Carolina became the fourth state to adopt the firing squads, it would demand proper policy and protocols set out by the Department of Corrections. 

“We would look for guidance from other states and the courts as to what has been deemed constitutional,” said the department spokesperson Chrysti Shain.

Before McMaster signed the measure, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah started approving firing squads.

According to Death Penalty Information Center, lethal injection still remains the primary method for execution for death sentences in all four states, reports NYPost.

South Carolina has not performed any capital punishment since 2011, said the Guardian. Death by lethal injection has been a common choice of execution among prisoners inside and outside the state. This has resulted in procrastination as pharmaceutical companies refuse to invest much of their attention in such products to serve the penalty. 

Pfizer, for example, declared in 2016 that the company is committed to “enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve,” therefore rejected to have their products employed in the execution of inmates in the United States. 

However, with this new law, prisoners in South Carolina will be put back in line to be executed. Spokesperson Robert Kittle of the Attorney General’s Office said that those who have their name on the list would receive notification of their fate, and the fourth Friday after the notice shall be the end day for them. 

The State reported that the timeline might be adjusted when the bill’s constitutional essence is discussed in courts. Meanwhile, the electric chair is at present available for use, which could mean some of the inmates may actually end up being electrocuted instead of being injected with poison as they thought they were. 

The outlet cited lawyer Bamberg (R-S.C.), who argued that before the bill was introduced, the context was different for the offender who committed the unwelcoming deed.

“With the law as it was written at the time, these individuals made a decision: do I plead guilty or take, maybe, a life sentence … or do I go to trial and risk death? And if I do go to trial, what kind of death am I facing?” Bamberg said during the bill’s hearing at the House floor. “We cannot change the rules of the game after the game has been played and there is a winner and a loser.”

Comparing the three options South Carolina offers, both electrocution and firing squad would indisputably entail certain physical suffering for the person being executed. With lethal injection, on the other hand, the person will most likely have to face only mental frustration as the drugs take effect.

Arguments on the ethical values of capital punishment could be conflicting. While there are indeed horrific crimes that would deserve the offender a strict sentence to ward off others from contemplating similar actions, it has also been a dilemma for those who may be subjected to unfair verdicts.

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