South Carolina has prepared itself to carry out executions by means of a firing squad, Greenville News reports.
According to a law that the state passed last year, the electric chair is the primary execution method in South Carolina. The state is one of only eight states that still use the electric chair.
But, the law also gives death row inmates the option of choosing execution by firing squad or by lethal injection, if these methods are available.
This makes South Carolina one of only four states to allow for executions by means of a firing squad.
South Carolina turned to firing squads as a result of a shortage of lethal injection drugs. This shortage resulted in the delay of some executions since neither the drugs nor death by firing squad were available.
What South Carolina’s Department of Corrections has done is update its execution facility so that firing squads can be used. The state spent $53,600 to do so.
The state’s death chamber is located inside of Broad River Correctional Institute. Now, the chamber includes a chair where the inmate can sit during a firing squad execution. The chair has also been surrounded by protective equipment.
Inside the chamber, the chair faces a wall, roughly 15 feet away, with a rectangular opening where the shots will be fired from. Witnesses, though, will only see a right-side profile of the inmate.
A hood will be placed over the inmate’s head and an aim point over his heart. The warden will read the execution order, and the shots will be fired. Then, a doctor will declare the inmate dead, a curtain will drop, and the witnesses will be escorted from the room.
Now that South Carolina has updated its execution chamber, all that is needed is for the state Supreme Court to provide the final okay for firing squad executions. After that, the executions will begin.
It is believed that Brad Keith Sigmon and Freddie Eugene Owens are likely to be the first to be executed in this manner.
If South Carolina follows through on this, it will be the only state other than Utah to execute an inmate by firing squad in the past four decades.