Detainees must have the choice of death from gunfire, the court rules, that the United States is looking for alternatives to lethal injection in the midst of drug shortages.
The supreme court in the U.S. state of South Carolina has blocked it two executions from an electric chair set for this month under the recently revised death penalty law by the state, while the United States is struggling to find alternatives to lethal injections amid a drug shortage.
South Carolina had planned to execute Brad Sigmon, who was convicted of two murders in 2002, with the electric chair on Friday, the first use of the death penalty in the state in a decade. The execution of Freddie Owen’s electric chair, for murder during an armed attack, was scheduled for June 25.
But the state supreme court said Wednesday that men cannot be put to death until they have the choice of death by a firing squad, as set out in the revised state law, which forces convicts to choose between electrocution or the firing squad if drugs for lethal injection are not available.
The statute is intended to resume execution after an involuntary 10-year hiatus the state has attributed to inability to procure the drug.
A spokesman for the Department of Corrections in South Carolina he said local newspaper The Greenville News reported that the “department is moving forward with the creation of policies and procedures for a shooting team. We are looking to other states to be guided through this process.”
“We will notify the court when a shooting team becomes an option for executions “.
Lawyers for the two men had argued that the death by electrocution is cruel and unusual. They said men have the right to die by lethal injection and that the state has not exhausted all methods to procure drugs for lethal injection.
Richard Moore, another convicted detainee, was to be put to death in December 2020, but the South Carolina Supreme Court has previously delayed his execution for lack of lethal drugs for injection.
Moore filed a petition with the state high court to leave his sentenced to death and is waiting for an answer. The last person to be executed by an electric chair was convicted murderer Lynda Lyon Block in 2002 in Alabama.
Alongside the electric chair and shooting squads, some states plan to use gas chambers for the death penalty.
Arizona has begun to renovate his gas chamber, last used 22 years ago, to execute detainees at the end of last year. The state also bought hydrogen cyanide gas, which the Nazis used to kill 865,000 Jews alone in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Alabama, too, could plan to start executions from the gas chamber, but with nitrogen hypoxia.
Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) reported that the Alabama Department of Corrections “is in the process of completing the initial physical construction for the nitrogen hypoxia system and its safety measures,” citing the judgments.
“Once construction is complete … a security expert will make an on-site visit to assess the system and look for any concerns that need to be addressed.”
The presentation did not explicitly state whether the state plans to use the gas chamber for a specific execution.
According to DPIC executive director Robert Dunham, it is difficult to know what points of concern there may be, that execution by nitrogen hypoxia “has never been done before and no one has any idea that work is their way. supporters say it will be. “
“And there’s no way to prove it because it’s unethical to experimentally kill someone against their will,” he said.