The executions of two detainees were blocked by a US court, which ruled that they must have the choice of dying by firing squad.
the Caroline from the south The Supreme Court has stopped the executions of Brad Sigmon and Freddie Owens, ruling that the authorities must form a firing squad to give them the possibility of being killed.
Sigmon, 63, was due to be executed in an electric chair on Friday, the state’s first use of the death penalty in a decade.
He was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend’s parents with a baseball bat in 2002.
Owen’s execution in an electric chair has been set for June 25, after being convicted of murdering a store worker in a robbery in 1999.
The state recently changed its death penalty law to address a shortage of lethal injection drugs.
It now forces death row inmates to choose between electrocution or firing squad if drugs are not available.
The law aimed to resume state executions after a 10-year hiatus caused by its inability to produce the lethal injection.
Prison officials had previously said they couldn’t afford the drugs and had yet to form a firing squad, leaving the 109-year-old electric chair as the only option.
“The department is moving forward with creating policies and procedures for a firing squad,” Corrections Department spokeswoman Chrysti Shain said after the court ruling.
“We are looking to other states for guidance throughout this process. We will notify the court when a firing squad becomes an option for executions.”
Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
Lawyers for the men said the electrocution was cruel and unusual and that the new law pushed the state towards less humane methods of execution.
They said men had the right to die by lethal injection – the method both men chose – and that the state had not exhausted all methods of acquiring the drugs.
State attorneys argued that prison officials were only enforcing the law and that the United States Supreme Court had never ruled electrocution unconstitutional.
South Carolina is one of eight states to still use the electric chair and four to allow a firing squad, according to the Washington-based nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.
South Carolina’s last execution was in 2011, and its deadly injection drug consignment expired two years later.
There are 37 men on state death row.
Opponents of the death penalty have called on South Carolina to abolish the death penalty altogether.
Abraham Bonowitz, director of the national group Death Penalty Action, said he was grateful the execution plans were stalled, but felt a bigger change was needed.
“It’s always good news when executions are suspended, but if the conversation is only about how we kill our prisoners, rather than whether the state should have this power, something is seriously wrong,” a- he declared.
“All of this is unnecessary and a costly waste of taxpayer dollars that could better meet the needs of all victims of violent crime.
At a rally on Wednesday, people marked the anniversary of the electrocution of 14-year-old George Stinney, the youngest person executed in America in the 20th century.
Stinney was still a teenager when he was sent to South Carolina’s electric chair after a one-day trial in 1944 in connection with the murder of two white girls.
A judge overturned the black teenager’s conviction in 2014.