Detainees must be given the choice of firing squad death, according to court rules, as US states seek alternatives to lethal injection amid drug shortages.
The highest court in the US state of South Carolina has blocked two executions by electric chair set for this month under the state’s recently revised death penalty law, as US states scramble to find alternatives to lethal injections amid a drug shortage.
Caroline from the south had planned to execute Brad Sigmon, who was convicted of two murders in 2002, on Friday with the electric chair, the first use of capital punishment in the state in a decade. The electric chair execution of Freddie Owen, for murder in an armed robbery, was set for June 25.
But the state’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the men could not be executed until they had the option of firing squad death, as provided for in revised state law, which forces convicts to choose between electrocution or firing squad if lethal injection drugs are not available.
The law aims to resume executions after an involuntary 10-year hiatus that the state attributed to an inability to procure the drugs.
A spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Corrections Told the local newspaper The Greenville News that the “department is moving forward with creating policies and procedures for a firing squad.” We are looking to other states for guidance throughout this process. “
“We will inform the court when a firing squad becomes an option for executions.
Lawyers for the two men had argued that death from electrocution was cruel and unusual. They also said that men have the right to die by lethal injection and that the state has not exhausted all methods of obtaining lethal injection drugs.
Richard Moore, another sentenced inmate, was due to be put to death in December 2020, but the South Carolina Supreme Court had previously delayed his execution due to a lack of lethal injection drugs.
Moore asked the State High Court to release his death sentence and waits for a response. The last person to be executed by electric chair was convicted of murder Lynda Lyon Block in 2002 in Alabama.
Along with the electric chair and firing squads, some states plan to use gas chambers for the death penalty.
Arizona started to renovate his gas chamber, last used 22 years ago, to execute detainees late last year. The state also bought hydrogen cyanide gas, which the Nazis used to kill 865,000 Jews in the Auschwitz concentration camp alone.
Alabama could also consider starting gas chamber executions, but with nitrogen hypoxia.
The Information Center on the Death Penalty (DPIC) reported that the Alabama Department of Corrections “is close to completing the initial physical construction of the nitrogen hypoxia system and its safety measures,” citing court documents.
“Once construction is complete… a safety expert will conduct a site visit to assess the system and find any points of concern that need to be addressed. “
The documents did not explicitly state whether the state planned to use the gas chamber for a specific execution.
It’s hard to say what points of concern there may be, according to DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham, who told Newsweek that the nitrogen hypoxia execution “has never been done before and no one has done it before. ‘Has any idea if this is going to work as his supporters say.
“And there is no way to test it because it is totally unethical to experimentally kill someone against their will,” he said.