GOP-led South Carolina Senate introduces disturbing bill for death row

GOP-led South Carolina Senate introduces disturbing bill for death row
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US Department of Justice says FDA can't regulate execution drugs

The Republican-led Senate in South Carolina has introduced a new bill that would require death row inmates to choose the style of their execution. According to The State, a bipartisan group of lawmakers within the state's Senate voted in favor of reintroducing the firing squad for executions.

The newly proposed law comes as the state of South Carolina faces a years-long delay to receive legal injection drugs to carry out executions. Two of the state's executions have been on hold since 2016 due to a shortage in drug availability. Now, there is the possibility of a third execution being delayed.

The publication reports that under the state's current law, death row inmates have the option to choose between death by lethal injection or electrocution. If an inmate chooses legal injection and drugs are not available to carry out the execution, by law, the state cannot force the inmate to die by electrocution.

Instead, the inmate's execution would be delayed until the proper drugs are made available. "For several years, as most of you know, South Carolina has not been able to carry out executions," state Sen. Greg Hembree (R) said.

Under the newly proposed law, the state would give death row inmates three options: lethal injection, firing squad, or electrocution. However, if lethal injection drugs are not available, the publication reports that the new bill would give state officials the ability to still move forward with the death penalty by way of electrocution or firing squad.

Hembree also argued that death by firing squad would be a more humane approach than electrocution. According to the Republican state senator, electrocution is one of the most torturous forms of death. "Carrying out justice is important," Hembree, R-Horry, said. "But you don't want to torture anybody needlessly. That's not the government's place."

Sen. Dick Harpootlian (D-Columbia, S.C.), who also voted in favor of advancing the bill, also agreed with Hembree's stance on electrocution. "They're dead instantly," Harpootlian said. "The actual pain and suffering of death, it's actually the least painful and the least suffering of any manner of death."

However, he also admitted that the bill is still not something to be proud of. "This is not something we should be proud of," Harpootlian said of the bill. "Anyone here who is proud of this needs to go to church on Sunday."

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