Those who commit crimes and are found guilty must endure the consequences of their actions. Sometimes it takes the form of monetary penalties, such as fines. There are times when it takes the form of time spent in jail. And in cases where the crime is especially egregious, the punishment can be the death penalty.
There are still 27 states in this country that retain the use of the death sentence, and South Carolina is one of them. It should not come as much of a surprise given that a large number of southern states continue to uphold some version of the death sentence. It is more effective as a deterrence than it is for any other purpose. Although there may be individuals occupying death row at any given time, the punishments are rarely carried out.
2011 was the year that South Carolina carried out its final execution. Between the years 1976 and 2011, there were a total of 43 people put to death by execution. In addition to this, it indicates that the state is one of the top 10 states in terms of the total number of people executed within its borders.
The electric chair and the firing squad are the two methods of execution that are considered to be the more traditional forms, and both of these options are currently available to death row inmates in South Carolina. Both have the potential to extend the dying process and bring on excruciating pain right up until the time of death.
One of the state's judges has reached the conclusion that enough is enough. Both the firing squad and the electric chair are considered to be cruel and unusual forms of punishment by the state constitution. Judge Jocelyn Newman came to the conclusion that their actions were unconstitutional.
In the past, execution by injection was the method of choice. There is only one issue to consider. Since the state's last execution, which occurred more than a decade ago, the state has not made the medications that are required to carry out the injection procedure available to the public.
This indicates that Newman was required to serve as the judge in a lawsuit brought on behalf of four individuals who were on death row. Their scheduled executions have been drawing ever closer. Because they were unable to obtain the medications necessary for the lethal injection procedure, the state was forced to choose between the two other means of execution that were legal within the state: the electric chair or the firing squad.
The duration of the trial was a total of four days. During that time, Newman listened to the testimonies of several witnesses who argued that the techniques of carrying out the death sentence were capable of causing severe agony to the individuals who were sentenced to death row.
According to Dr. Jonathan Arden, who served as a medical examiner in the District of Columbia for many years, a person can feel "excruciating pain" for up to 15 seconds with a firing squad before they lose consciousness. When it comes to the electric chair, it has the ability to essentially "cooking" one's inside organs.
Newman came to the conclusion that both methods of carrying out a death sentence were archaic, despite the fact that there were witnesses who testified against Arden. As a consequence of this, it delays the carrying out of executions until a more compassionate approach may be investigated.
Between 1997 and 2002, all four of the prisoners currently serving sentences on death row in South Carolina were found guilty of their crimes and given their death sentences. These guys will not be put to death as a result of Newman's verdict because the state constitution does not provide any other methods of execution. Instead, they will be allowed to live to see another day, and possibly even a few more years.
There are still five approaches that are utilized all over the United States. In addition to execution by firing squad and electrocution, states are still permitted to use hanging, fatal injection, and lethal gas.
Since the death penalty is often regarded as an instance of harsh and unusual punishment, an increasing number of jurisdictions are opting to do away with it altogether. This is especially true in situations when there have been executions that have gone awry, such as fatal gas chambers that have been wrongly used. And some of them haven't been utilized in many years, such as the state of Delaware's use of the hanging, which was the last time it was employed in 1996.
Criminals may be capable of the most horrible acts, but it is more likely than not that they will expire behind bars rather than being put to death for their crimes. It is no longer impossible to appeal a death sentence, as is the case in South Carolina, where we are currently observing this trend. Are you in agreement with Judge Newman's statements?
The preceding is a summary of an article that originally appeared on American People Daily.