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As Trial in South Carolina Execution-Method Challenge Begins, Review of State’s Death Penalty Reveals System that is Biased, Arbitrary, and Error-Prone

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As the trial challenging South Carolina’s execution methods began on August 1, 2022, a review of the state’s death penalty by the Greenville News revealed a pattern of discrimination, geographic arbitrariness, and high error rates in the implementation of the punishment.  In a two-part examination, reporter Kathryn Casteel analyzed racial and county demographics on death row, reversal rates in capital cases, and the timing of death sentences to provide context for the state’s efforts to institute the electric chair and firing squad as its primary execution methods. RELATED |  Future of South Carolina death penalty now rests with judge Four of South Carolina’s 35 death-row prisoners are suing the state to block a law that would force them to choose between electrocution and firing squad as methods of execution. One of the men, Richard Moore, wrote in an April legal filing, “I believe this election is forcing me to choose between two unconstitutional methods of execution.” Executions ar

Virginia lethal injection drug same as one in Ohio suit

The Virginia Department of Corrections said Thursday that it has approved the sedative midazolam as an alternative first drug in the state's three-drug execution protocol. Midazolam was one of two drugs used in last month's execution of an Ohio inmate who made snorting and gasping sounds and took an unusually long 26 minutes to die. His family is suing Ohio.

Illinois-based Hospira Inc., which manufactures midazolam, opposes its use for capital punishment but has been unable to stop state prison systems from obtaining it from suppliers.

The development comes as many death penalty states are grappling with a shortage of drugs that can be used in executions. Many of the drugs are manufactured in European countries that have prohibited their export for use in capital punishment.

Virginia lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow the state to use the electric chair in executions if lethal injection drugs are not available when an inmate's execution date arrives. Under current law, death row inmates can choose either the electric chair or lethal injection. If they decline to choose, they get the injection.

Source: AP, Feb. 21, 2014

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