COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – A South Carolina court has ruled that the electric chair and firing squad are unconstitutional and the state cannot execute inmates by those methods.
In Tuesday’s ruling, Circuit Court Judge Jocelyn Newman ruled that both methods of execution are cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the South Carolina Constitution.
“In 2021, South Carolina turned back the clock and became the only state in the country in which a person may be forced into the electric chair if he refuses to elect how he will die,” Newman wrote in her ruling. “In doing so, the General Assembly ignored advances in scientific research and evolving standards of humanity and decency.”
The lawsuit was brought against the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), SCDC Director Bryan Stirling, and Governor Henry McMaster by death row inmates Gary Terry, Freddie Owens, Richard Moore, and Brad Sigmon.
The court also ruled that a 2021 law which forced inmates to choose between the electric chair or firing squad was also unconstitutional.
The law was passed due to South Carolina’s inability to obtain the drugs necessary to perform lethal injections.
We reached out to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office for comment but a spokesperson said they were unaware of the ruling.