Judge rules firing squad, electric chair unconstitutional in South Carolina

The renovated Capital Punishment Facility as seen from the witness room. The firing squad chair...
The renovated Capital Punishment Facility as seen from the witness room. The firing squad chair is on the left. The covered chair is the electric chair, which does not move.(SC Dept. of Corrections)
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 7:42 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 7:43 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS/Gray News) - A Richland County judge ruled Tuesday that firing squads and the use of the electric chair are unconstitutional in South Carolina.

Judge Jocelyn Newman ruled in the case involving four death row inmates against the State of South Carolina. She granted declaratory and injunctive relief for the inmates, 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.