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Atavistic South Carolinians Offer Option of Firing Squad to Condemned Prisoners

Brad Sigmon, 63, was scheduled to be killed on June 18, 2021, at the hands of the people of South Carolina in their perverse and bizarre notion of justice. But on June 16, 2021, the South Carolina Supreme Court stayed his killing. The Court announced it would not issue a new notice of execution until the South Carolina Department of Corrections could carry out an execution using the firing squad.

The Court’s stay is the result of the shameful actions of Governor Henry McMaster. On May 17, 2021, McMaster signed into law a bill that requires prisoners on death row to choose between a firing squad or the electric chair if lethal injection is not available.

A growing global consensus on the barbarism inherent in carrying out capital punishment has led many pharmaceutical companies to refuse to sell the drugs to states for use in lethal injections. In 2016, Pfizer (the world’s largest pharmaceutical company) imposed controls to ensure its products were used only to “enhance and save the lives of the patients [they] serve” and not to be used by U.S. prisons for executions.

Condemned prisoners continued to choose death by lethal injection. Apparently, the consistent lack of drugs with which to kill these people frustrated the bloodthirsty intentions of the people of South Carolina. Their Senate then approved the bill to allow a choice of killing by firing squad or by electrocution.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1973 more than 170 people who were sentenced to death after being wrongly convicted within the U.S. justice system have been exonerated. How many other innocent ones were put to death in the name of this perversion of justice isn’t known. However, it is widely known that in the U.S., Black people account for about 13% of the population yet more than 40% of federal death-row prisoners are Black. And it is equally known that Black people are neither “more vicious” than white people nor do they commit the “more heinous” crimes.

Further, the plain truth is that if Mr. Sigmon and all the others on death row are executed, it’s not a matter of justice—it’s a matter of politics and geography. Regardless of the “gruesome details” of the crimes committed, had those crimes been committed a few hundred miles to the north, none of these people would be facing execution. (After more than 400 years, the citizens of Virginia finally recognized the utterly appalling nature of killing people in the name of justice and abolished the death penalty.)

Let’s clear up any false notions that killing the convicted is justice. When a man commits the heinous act of rape, do we hold him down and rape him in return? When a man sexually molests his neighbor’s children, do we then molest his children? As an enlightened, modern society, we have supposedly moved past the anachronistic “eye for an eye” notion of justice—but apparently, not completely.

Writers’ note: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Human Rights Defense Center. May the global community boycott South Carolina. 


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