COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Governor Henry McMaster says South Carolina is now prepared to carry out the death penalty by lethal injection.
It has been years since South Carolina carried out an execution. The state’s last batch of a lethal injection drug was not replenished after expiring in 2013, and companies that make the drug were worried about being identified publicly and therefore would not supply the drug.
Gov. McMaster has long called on the General Assembly to pass a Shield Statute, which protects the identity of individuals or entities involved in the planning or execution of a death sentence.
Lawmakers passed the legislation this year. “After Gov. Henry McMaster signed the Shield Statute into law on May 12, the department continued its previous efforts to secure the drugs with the new shield provision,” the governor’s office said.
He, along with the South Carolina Department of Corrections, informed the state Supreme Court that the state was now prepared to carry out lethal injections once again.
“Justice has been delayed for too long in South Carolina,” said Gov. McMaster. “This filing brings our state one step closer to being able to once again carry out the rule of law and bring grieving families and loved ones the closure they are rightfully owed.”
The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) made more than 1,300 contacts in search of lethal injection drugs, including drug manufacturers, suppliers, compounding pharmacies, and other potential sources, according to the governor’s office.
With the new Shied Statute in place, SCDC successfully secured pentobarbital for carrying out an execution by lethal injection under a one-drug protocol.
“The department’s lethal injection policy has been revised to provide for the use of a one-drug protocol,” McMaster’s office said. “The new protocol is essentially identical to protocols used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and at least six other states. Courts have upheld the use of this drug against constitutional challenges.”
Gov. McMaster signed a law in 2021 that gives prisoners on death row the choice between death by firing squad or the electric chair; however, that law was placed on hold amid a challenge from death row prisoners who have argued both methods are unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishments.
According to the governor’s office, South Carolina law specifies the electric chair as the default method of execution while giving inmates the option of choosing death by firing squad or lethal injection if those methods are available.
All three methods outlined in law are now available to carry out a death sentence.