South Carolina is about to become the fourth state to bring back firing squads as a means of executing prisoners sentenced to death. The state House voted 66-43 to allow death row inmates to choose to be executed by a firing squad or electrocution if lethal injection drugs are not available.
Executions have been effectively halted in many states because they cannot obtain the drugs needed to perform lethal injections.
The bill now heads back to the Senate for a final vote. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said he intends to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
"We are one step closer to providing victims' families and loved ones with the justice and closure they are owed by law," he tweeted. "I will sign this legislation as soon as it gets to my desk."
Democrats blasted the decision to bring back firing squads.
"It's 2021. We should move on from these barbaric forms of punishment that are more medieval than they are modern. Today, our state has taken a step backward, and I am ashamed," State House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford said in a statement.
There are currently 37 inmates on death row in South Carolina, and three of them have run out of appeals.
Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Utah are the only other states that give prisoners the option of being executed by firing squad. Since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1977, only three inmates, all in Utah, were executed by a firing squad.
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