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State says painless death not required as it seeks to restart executions

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Lawyers for South Carolina death row inmates argued to the state’s Supreme Court that the electric chair and firing squad methods are cruel and unusual punishments.

They also raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the state’s new lethal injection protocol.

The state claims that all three execution methods are consistent with existing protocols, and the court questioned the unusual nature of the firing squad.

Grayson Lambert, a lawyer for Gov. Henry McMaster’s office wrote, “Courts have never held the death has to be instantaneous or painless.”

Attorney John Blume said, “I want to make sure it is humane as possible.”

Justice 360 lawyer Lindsey Vann said, “No inmate in the country has ever been put to death with such little transparency about how he or she would be executed.”

Lawyers for the state claim the inmates want the information so they can determine who is supplying the drugs and put them under public pressure to stop.

Lambert argued, “Each additional piece of information is a puzzle piece, and with enough of them, respondents (or anyone else) may put them together to identify an individual or entity protected by the Shield Statute.”

If the court bans electrocution and the firing squad, and if the state can prove the drugs used for lethal injection are appropriate, then there might not be a basis to stop an execution.

The state’s current execution law requires inmates to be sent to the electric chair unless they select an alternative method.

South Carolina’s shield law is being contested by inmates’ lawyers, who argue that it is too secretive.

The state’s execution rate has decreased due to successful appeals and rising costs.

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