South Carolina re-instates death by firing squad, schedules first execution

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In March 2022, the South Carolina Department of Corrections announced that it would now offering execution by firing squad, for those incarcerated people who are eligible to be legally slaughtered at the hands of the state. The first such death penalty is scheduled for later this month:

The clerk of the State Supreme Court has set a April 29 execution date for Richard Bernard Moore, a 57-year-old man who has spent more than two decades on death row after he was convicted of killing convenience store clerk James Mahoney in Spartanburg.

Moore could face a choice between the electric chair and the firing squad, two options available to death row prisoners after legislators altered the state’s capital punishment law last year in an effort to work around a decade-long pause in executions, attributed to the corrections agency’s inability to procure lethal injection drugs.

The new law made the electric chair the state’s primary means of execution while giving prisoners the option of choosing death by firing squad or lethal injection, if those methods are available.

The Department of Corrections spent a little over $50,000 to prepare for the new shooting policy (Fiscal responsiblity!!1). Here are some of the guidelines, if that’s the kind of horrible thing you’d like to read:

• The death chamber has been renovated to accommodate a firing squad. The chamber now includes a chair in which inmates will sit if they choose execution by firing squad. The chair is in a corner of the room away from the current electric chair, which cannot be moved.

• Bullet-resistant glass has been installed between the witness room and death chamber.
The firing squad chair is metal with restraints and is surrounded by protective equipment. The chair faces a wall with a rectangular opening 15 feet away.

• Three firing squad members will be behind the wall, with rifles facing the inmate through the opening. The rifles and open portal will not be visible from the witness room. All three rifles will be loaded with live ammunition.

• The witnesses will see the right-side profile of the inmate. The inmate will not face the witness room directly. The electric chair faces the witnesses directly.

• The inmate will wear a prison-issued uniform and be escorted into the chamber. The inmate will be given the opportunity to make a last statement.

• The inmate will be strapped into the chair, and a hood will be placed over his head. A small aim point will be placed over his heart by a member of the execution team.

• After the warden reads the execution order, the team will fire. After the shots, a doctor will examine the inmate. After the inmate is declared dead, the curtain will be drawn and witnesses escorted out.

• Members of the firing squad are volunteer SCDC employees. They must meet certain qualifications.

It’s unclear what legal recourse there is if someone should survive the execution.

South Carolina schedules 1st execution with firing squad ready [Michelle Liu / Associated Press]

Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons



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