South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson was informed Friday that the department is now able to carry out an execution by firing squad as required by law under S.C. Code 24-3-530, according to a release from the South Carolina Dept. of Corrections.
The legislation became law May, 14, 2021. It makes the electric chair the primary means of execution but gives inmates the option to choose death by firing squad or lethal injection if available. The Capital Punishment Facility at Broad River Correctional Institution underwent a renovation to allow it to perform firing squad executions.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections says they spent about $53,600 on supplies and materials on the firing squad method. They say the money spent was to comply with the law and add safety precautions.
Below is an overview of the protocols for carrying out an execution by firing squad and a description of what witnesses would observe:
- Three firing squad members will be behind the wall, with rifles facing the inmate through the opening. The rifles and open portal will not be visible from the witness room. All three rifles will be loaded with live ammunition.
- The witnesses will see the right-side profile of the inmate. The inmate will not face the witness room directly. The electric chair faces the witnesses directly.
- The inmate will wear a prison-issued uniform and be escorted into the chamber. The inmate will be given the opportunity to make a last statement. The inmate will be strapped into the chair, and a hood will be placed over his head. A small aim point will be placed over his heart by a member of the execution team.
- After the warden reads the execution order, the team will fire. After the shots, a doctor will examine the inmate. After the inmate is declared dead, the curtain will be drawn and witnesses escorted out.
- Members of the firing squad are volunteer SCDC employees. They must meet certain qualifications.
South Carolina is one of eight states to still use the electric chair and one of four to allow a firing squad, according to the Washington-based nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.