Call for death penalty in shooting, but state lacks the drug

2015-06-21 21:35
Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in Charleston. (AP)

Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in Charleston. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Columbia - Two days after the shooting deaths of nine people during a Bible study group at a Charleston church, Republican Governor Nikki Haley made a bold public statement: The gunman "absolutely" should be put to death.

But her state, though largely pro-death penalty, can't secure one of the drugs needed for lethal injections and hasn't executed an inmate since 2011.

Any potential execution order for Dylann Storm Roof, 21, would be years away. He is charged with nine counts of murder in Wednesday's massacre. He appeared briefly before a judge on Friday, and his next court appearance isn't until October. Haley made her comments Friday on NBC's "Today" show, but the governor has no power in Roof's prosecution or sentencing.

South Carolina's supply of pentobarbital, one of three drugs used in the state's lethal injection procedure, expired in 2013.

Corrections Director Bryan Stirling has made it clear to legislators that his agency can't buy anymore, even as 44 people are on death row in the state. All attempts to purchase more have failed - a problem in states nationwide. Some are trying to find new drugs and new sources for drugs because pharmaceutical companies have stopped selling them for executions and pharmacists are reluctant to expose themselves to possible harassment.

Stirling advocated this year for a bill that would keep secret the information of any company or pharmacist providing execution drugs, saying that should help secure them. But bills have stalled in both chambers, and opponents urged legislators not to vote for government secrecy.

The Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of Oklahoma's three-drug injection, with inmates arguing it doesn't reliably produce unconsciousness and causes pain and suffering. State House Judiciary chairperson Greg Delleney, a Republican, has said he will probably wait for that decision before asking lawmakers to vote on the bill, though Stirling notes that South Carolina uses a different drug.

Death row

Even with the dozens of inmates on South Carolina's death row, the next execution is probably five years away, according to Emily Paavola, executive director of South Carolina's Death Penalty Resource and Defence Center, which believes South Carolina's death penalty is fraught with problems and advocates for reform. Paavola has said the only way that would speed up is if an inmate who's sentenced to die waives all appeals - an unlikely scenario.

Death row inmates can choose electrocution, but if a prisoner doesn't want to die that way, the prisons agency could not carry out an execution order without the necessary drugs for a lethal injection, Stirling said.

Since lethal injection became an option in 1995, only three of 39 people executed have died by electrocution.

After the bills on drugmaker secrecy stalled, Representative Joshua Putnam, a Republican, introduced a proposal that would add death by a five-member firing squad to the state's list of approved execution methods.

Putnam said while there are cases in which lethal injection drugs didn't work properly and caused pain, "we do know by firing squad you don't feel anything."

But Representative Joe Neal said that makes little sense.

"I can't think of a more hideous spectacle than gunning down someone," said Neal, a Democrat. "Whether people suffer or not depends on the aim of an unknown marksman."

Putnam's measure also would allow for execution by electrocution if the state doesn't have the lethal injection drugs.

No action has occurred on any bills to change death penalty procedures, but they can be taken up when the second of a two-year legislative session resumes in January.

Read more on:    dylann roof  |  us  |  charleston shooting

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
47 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.