Firing squads, electrocutions unconstitutional in SC, judge rules

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:51 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 7:31 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In a victory for four death row inmates, a Richland County judge ruled Tuesday that firing squads and electrocutions are unconstitutional in South Carolina.

Judge Jocelyn Newman ruled in favor of the inmates and granted declaratory and injunctive relief, writing:

In 2021, South Carolina turned back the clock and became the only state in the country in which a person may be forced into the electric chair if he refuses to elect how he will die. In doing so, the General Assembly ignored advances in scientific research and evolving standards of humanity and decency.

Newman’s ruling found the state’s use of firing squads and electrocution is in violation of the South Carolina Constitution and its prohibition on cruel, corporal, or unusual punishments. It additionally said the state is permanently prevented from executing the inmates by electrocution or firing squad.

One of the inmates in the lawsuit, Richard Bernard Moore, was scheduled earlier in the year to be the first person executed by firing squad in the state after the legislature added the option for prisoner executions. Through legal appeals, Moore’s execution was delayed while the court considered the case.

You can read the full order below: