Published on: Friday, March 18, 2022

Executions by a state-approved firing squad are now able to be carried out in South Carolina, the state's Department of Corrections announced Friday (article available here).

The S.C. Department of Corrections informed the state’s Attorney General Alan Wilson Friday that it is now able to execute people on death row using a three-person firing squad using live ammunition if an inmate chooses that method. The state spent $53,600 in renovations to the Capital Punishment Facility at Broad River Correctional Institution. Among the renovations was installing bullet-resistant glass and a firing squad chair with restraints for the person to be killed.

The legislature passed a law in 2021 that makes the electric chair South Carolina’s primary method of execution, but gives inmates the option to choose death by firing squad or lethal injection if available. Lethal injection has been unavailable for years in South Carolina.

To carry out the execution, the agency said the firing squad will stand behind a wall and use rifles. But the department did not specify what type of rifle or what kind of ammunition. All firing squad members will be volunteers. The rifles will not be visible to the witness room, and, unlike the electric chair, the witnesses will only be able to see the right side of the inmate’s profile.

The inmate, wearing a prison-issued uniform, will be strapped into the execution chair and a hood will be placed over their head.

A “small aim point will be placed over his heart by a member of the execution team,” at which point the warden will read the execution order and the team will fire, the department said.

South Carolina has 35 people now on death row. The last execution was carried out in 2011. The state has been unable to carry out executions because it lacks the drugs necessary for the lethal injection method.

South Carolina is now one of four states that offer the firing squad as an execution option. The other states are Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah. Since 1976, three people were executed by firing squad.