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South Carolina Department of Corrections

  • A bill that would allow South Carolina to buy the drugs needed for lethal injection without revealing the name of the company who sells them will soon be heading for the governor's desk. The state Senate on Thursday approved minor changes the House made in the shield law bill with almost no debate. The proposal also requires the names of members of the execution team be kept secret. South Carolina has had an unintended 12-year moratorium on the death penalty after its lethal injection drugs passed their expiration date and pharmacies refused to sell the state more.
  • South Carolina prison officials have decided to keep former attorney and convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh in a special protective unit as he begins serving his life sentence for killing his wife and son. The state Department of Corrections said in a news release Friday that mental health and prison experts determined that Murdaugh should be kept in protective custody after they reviewed his case, including the enormous amount of publicity it garnered and psychiatric and other tests. Prison officials said they weren't disclosing the unit's location due to security concerns.
  • South Carolina's highest court will hear arguments on whether a newly organized firing squad or the old electric chair are legal ways to execute inmates in the state. The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear an appeal Thursday of a lower court ruling that executions by electrocution or firing squad cause excruciating pain and are cruel and unusual punishments. South Carolina hasn't conducted an execution since 2011. Since then, the state's lethal injection drugs have expired and administrators have been unable to buy more. That led lawmakers in 2021 to pass a bill essentially requiring condemned inmates to be electrocuted unless they choose the firing squad.
  • Cellist Claire Bryant released her debut solo album this month entitled, "Whole Heart" at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville where she teaches music to prisoners.
  • A South Carolina judge has ruled that the state’s newly created execution firing squad and its use of the electric chair are unconstitutional. Judge Jocelyn Newman's decision Tuesday siding with four death row inmates is sure to be swiftly appealed as the state struggles to implement its new execution protocols. Last month, Newman heard arguments from lawyers for four men on the state’s death row, who said that the prisoners would feel terrible pain whether their bodies were “cooking” by electricity or heart stopped by a marksman’s bullet. The state's experts said death by firing squad or electric chair would be instantaneous and the condemned would not feel any pain. Corrections Department officials said they are “assessing the ruling.” Gov. Henry McMaster said he would appeal.
  • It's unknown how long a stay will hold off the execution of South Carolina's first-ever inmate to be put to death by a firing squad as his attorneys pursue legal challenges. But the issuance of Richard Bernard Moore's death warrant has renewed interest in how a state puts in motion its plans to shoot an inmate to death. South Carolina had planned to put Moore to death by firing squad on April 29. The state added the method to its approved capital punishment methods last year. Since then, prisons officials have been retrofitting the death chamber to add a slot in the wall through which three volunteers will shoot rifles at the condemn's heart.
  • The South Carolina Supreme Court has put another execution on hold, two days after temporarily blocking plans for a rare firing squad execution. The court issued an order Friday granting inmate Brad Keith Sigmon a temporary stay ahead of his scheduled May 13 execution. The state's highest court on Wednesday had paused plans for an April 29 firing squad execution of Richard Moore. Moore and Sigmon would have been the first death row inmates put to death by South Carolina after a 2021 law made electrocution the default and also gave prisoners the option to choose a firing squad. Sigmon had so far not chosen an execution method.
  • The South Carolina Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay halting the state from carrying out plans for its first-ever firing squad execution. Wednesday's order by the state's high court temporarily halts a scheduled April 29 execution of inmate Richard Moore. The court order said a more detailed order will follow. Moore's attorneys had asked justices to block the execution plan so they could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether his crime rises to the level of a death penalty offense. Moore has spent more than two decades on death row for the 1999 killing of convenience store clerk James Mahoney in Spartanburg.
  • A South Carolina prisoner scheduled for execution later this month has chosen to die by firing squad rather than in the electric chair. Court documents filed Friday listed Richard Moore's decision. Moore's April 29 execution would make him the first person executed in the state since 2011. His attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to halt the execution while another court considers whether the state's capital punishment methods are constitutional. A state law that went into effect last year set electrocution as the default method and added a firing squad option. Correction officials have maintained they are unable to obtain the drugs needed for lethal injection, the state's third method.
  • A judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by four death row inmates challenging South Carolina's execution methods can move forward. Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman made the ruling Thursday. Lawyers for the inmates asked Newman to closely examine prison officials' claims that they can't secure lethal injection drugs, leaving the electric chair and the firing squad as the only options for execution.