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South Carolina Now Prepared to Carry Out Death Penalty by Lethal Injection

September 19, 2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster and the S.C. Department of Corrections informed the S.C. Supreme Court today that the department is now prepared to carry out executions by lethal injection.

"Justice has been delayed for too long in South Carolina," said Governor Henry 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.”

Since taking office in 2017, Gov. McMaster has been calling on the General Assembly to pass a Shield Statute, echoing points S.C. Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling has made throughout his tenure at SCDC.

The S.C. General Assembly passed legislation this year to enact the Shield Statute, which protects, among other things, the identity of individuals or entities involved in the planning or execution of a death sentence. 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.

In doing so, SCDC made more than 1,300 contacts in search of lethal injection drugs. Those inquiries included drug manufacturers, suppliers, compounding pharmacies, and other potential sources.

As a result of those efforts and the Shield Statute, SCDC was able to secure 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. 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.

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.