South Carolina Begins Offering Firing Squad Executions for Death Row Inmates

The firing squad execution chamber at the Utah state prison in Draper, Utah. Photograph: Trent Nelson/AP

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. Department of Corrections informed S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson last week that the department is now able to carry out an execution by firing squad.

The legislation, which became law on May 14, 2021, makes the electric chair the state’s primary means of execution while giving inmates the option of choosing death by firing squad or lethal injection if those methods are available.

The Capital Punishment Facility at Broad River Correctional Institution has been renovated to include the capacity to perform an execution by firing squad. Protocols have been written, and the department is ready to carry out an order of execution by firing squad if the inmate chooses this method.

Here is an overview of changes at the Capital Punishment Facility:

  • The death chamber has been renovated to accommodate a firing squad. The chamber now includes a chair in which inmates will sit if they choose execution by firing squad. The chair is in a corner of the room away from the current electric chair, which cannot be moved.
  • Bullet-resistant glass has been installed between the witness room and death chamber. The firing squad chair is metal with restraints and is surrounded by protective equipment. The chair faces a wall with a rectangular opening 15 feet away.

Here is an overview of the protocols for carrying out an execution by firing squad and a description of what witnesses would observe:

  • Three firing squad members will be behind the wall, with rifles facing the inmate through the opening. The rifles and open portal will not be visible from the witness room. All three rifles will be loaded with live ammunition.

(S.C. Department of Corrections)

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