The shortage of lethal injections and the controversies surrounding it has prompted South Carolina to bring back the archaic execution style – the firing squad. Death row inmate Richard Bernard Moore will have two choices – the electric chair and the firing squad.
The 57-year-old, who was sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of a Spartanburg convenience store clerk during a botched robbery in 1999, could become the state’s first death by firing squad.
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The clerk of the State Supreme Court has set a April 29 execution date for Moore, who will also be the first execution in state following the completion of some $53,600 renovations to its death chamber.
The state had set a 2020 date for Moore’s execution, but it had to be deferred as the correction department couldn’t obtain drugs to use for a lethal injection.
Meanwhile, dozens of botched, evidently painful lethal injections in recent years, have raised concerns of the “cruel-style” of execution.
Last year, the state’s legislators altered the capital punishment law in an effort to work around a decade-long pause in executions, mostly because of the inability to procure lethal injection drugs.
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The US Supreme Court also told death row prisoners that if they want to fight lethal injection in court, they need to propose an alternative method of execution.
Prisoners in at least 10 states have reportedly said they would prefer the firing squad. While the style may seem cruel to many, experts believe that the death by a firing squad is “almost instantaneous… “
“It’s the cheapest, it’s the simplest, it has the lowest ‘botch’ rate,” Corinna Lain, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told the Marshal Project.
Moore, who is one of 35 men on South Carolina’s death row, will be given a choice between death by electric chair and firing squad.
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If Moore chooses the firing squad, three volunteer shooters — all Corrections Department employees — will have rifles loaded with live ammunition. A hood will be placed over the head of the inmate, who will be given the opportunity to make a last statement.