May 19, 2021 | South Carolina governor Henry McMaster recently signed into law a bill requiring individuals on the state's death row to choose between executions by electric chair or firing squad if lethal injection drugs are not available.
At the time of the bill signing, South Carolina had just recently hit the 10-year anniversary of its last lethal injection. The state's hiatus from executions and subsequent expansion of execution methods was precipitated by a lapse in access to lethal injection drugs, which pharmaceutical companies are increasingly refusing to sell to states for the purposes of executions.
It is possible that the new execution methods will allow for a restart to executions in South Carolina.
Many South Carolina Catholics spoke out against the proposed expansion of execution methods in the state. Following the bill's passage, the Diocese of Charleston released a statement indicating its "extreme disappointment" in the decision.
On the whole, the expansion of execution methods in South Carolina stands in stark contrast to powerful efforts elsewhere to abolish the death penalty. National trends indicate long-term declines in executions, death sentencing rates, and public support for capital punishment.