Arguments begin to determine S.C. electric chair, firing squad legality

FILE -  This March 2019, file photo, provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections...
FILE - This March 2019, file photo, provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows the state's electric chair in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law last week a bill that would essentially restart the state's stalled death penalty after a lack of lethal injection drugs has delayed several executions. The new law would let condemned inmates choose between the electric chair or a newly formed firing squad. (Kinard Lisbon/South Carolina Department of Corrections via AP, File)(Kinard Lisbon | AP)
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 7:05 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina’s highest court will hear arguments Thursday on whether a newly organized firing squad or the old electric chair are legal ways to execute inmates in the state, which has been unable to obtain drugs for lethal injections.

The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that executions by electrocution or firing squad cause excruciating pain and are cruel and unusual punishments.

South Carolina hasn’t conducted an execution since 2011. Since then, the state’s lethal injection drugs have expired and administrators have been unable to buy more.

That led lawmakers in 2021 to pass a bill essentially requiring condemned inmates to be electrocuted unless they choose the firing squad.