BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) — The state of South Carolina hasn’t executed an inmate since 2011. With lethal injection drugs being hard to get, there is talk of bringing back the electric chair.
Today, there are 36 inmates on death row in South Carolina, and the longest has been there since 1983.
“Worst of the worst of the worst,” said Solicitor Duffie Stone of the 14th Circuit Judicial Court, “They have committed crimes that are so heinous, that they have literally voided their right to live amongst us.”
One of them, Stone worked hard to put there.
“I was on the death penalty team, with then-Solicitor Randolph Murdaugh who prosecuted Tyree Roberts for the killing of the two deputies in Beaufort,” he said. “That was in 2003…It’s now 15 years later, and he’s still on death row.”
In this death penalty state, there hasn’t been an execution in seven years.
“At this point in time, they are not capable of carrying out the order because of the shortage of lethal-injection drugs,” Stone said.
Lethal injections started in 1995 after the General Assembly passed a law allowing death row inmates to choose the electric chair or lethal injection.
“What’s happening now is they’re choosing lethal injection because the Department of Corrections can’t get the cocktail to make up the lethal injection,” Stone said.
The state’s supply of the drugs has expired and they’re now facing issues with drug companies whose identities aren’t protected under the law.
“They don’t want the repercussions for being known as the company that’s selling death penalty drugs,” he said.
While a Shield Law to protect companies has been filed in the General Assembly, Stone supports a Default Bill taking away the option for inmates.
“Certainly none of the crime victims had a choice in the way they died. Just go back to the standard we had prior to 1994,” he said. If lethal injection is available, then the inmate can choose it if it’s not available, the inmate doesn’t get to avoid the death sentence by choosing something that’s not available. It then defaults to the electric chair.”
A death penalty is only an option in sentencing if there is a murder with what the law calls an ‘aggravated circumstance’ such as multiple murders or killing a police officer or a child under the age of 11.
“When we choose the death penalty,” Stone said it’s for a crime “that shocks even us.”
The Default Bill is waiting for a vote in the Senate.