May 15, 2023 | The South Carolina legislature passed a bill that makes secret the identity of companies that produce and sell drugs used in lethal injections and all others who participate in any phase of an execution. Governor Henry McMaster signed this bill into law on Friday, May 12, 2023.
While proponents of lethal injection claim it is the most “humane” execution method, in reality it is the most error-prone and unpredictable form of capital punishment.
The pervasiveness of problematic lethal injections has led a growing number of pharmaceutical companies to refuse to sell their products to correctional facilities for the purposes of executions. As a result, several states, including South Carolina, have been unable to acquire lethal injection drugs in recent years and have considered implementing other methods of execution.
This new law, known as a “shield law” or “secrecy law,” could restore executions by lethal injection in South Carolina by preventing pharmaceutical companies from being held accountable or facing public scrutiny.
This piece of harmful legislation comes at a time where advocates from across the country and from both sides of the political aisle have demanded greater transparency within the criminal legal system — specifically regarding capital punishment procedures.
Shield laws such as this one hide the life-threatening system of capital punishment behind a veil of secrecy, putting lives of the incarcerated further at risk and protecting those in power.