South Carolina plans to execute its prisoners by firing squad, the first time a state has used this method since 2010 when Utah killed Ronnie Lee Gardner.
The Department of Corrections this month that the electric chair will be its “primary means of execution,” but will allow prisoners to choose lethal injection or death by a firing squad of three men with rifles,“if those methods are available.”
The state renovated its death chamber to accommodate a firing squad, which also holds its electric chair. Prisoners will sit in a metal chair, outfitted with restraints and surrounded by protective equipment. Bullet-proof glass has been installed between the witness room and the death chamber.
The announcement noted that all three rifles will be loaded with live ammunition, and the firing squad will be behind a wall, pointing their guns through an opening 15 feet from the prisoner.
“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,” the announcement says.
According to the release, the shooters are volunteer South Carolina Department of Corrections employees who “must meet certain qualifications.”
There are 35 people on South Carolina’s death row.