Court finds South Carolina’s execution methods unconstitutional


South Carolina’s plan to execute men and women by electrocution or firing squad constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the state Constitution, a state judge ruled earlier this month.

The legislature “ignored advances in scientific research and evolving standards of humanity and decency” when it voted last year to force people to be killed by electric chair or firing squad if they refuse to choose a method of execution, Circuit Court Judge Jocelyn Newman wrote in her opinion.

In 39 pages, Newman lays out in excruciating detail how a person killed by electrocution or firing squad dies. Both methods cause extreme pain and suffering, and death is not immediate. As a result, both methods violate the state Constitution,

“Because both methods are unconstitutional, the statutes creation of an inmates right ‘to elect the manner of their execution’ is violated by the fact that an inmate does not have a choice between two constitutional methods of execution,” she noted.

Executions in South Carolina have been on hold since 2011 because officials have been unable to obtain lethal injection drugs.

According to the State, Gov. Henry McMaster said he will appeal the decision, sending the case to the state Supreme Court for a ruling.

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