Nebraska and South Carolina now stand out as the latest examples in America of states that don’t want to give up their capital punishment power — despite a lack of lethal injection drug availability. South Carolina lawmakers recently opted for firing squads, and Nebraska still sentences people to death even if there is no functional way to carry out the sentence.
Ignoring calls for abolition of the death penalty, South Carolina legislators voted to make their state one of only four in the country to add a firing squad to the list of execution methods, citing the lack of lethal drugs as a reason.
The controversy began back in March 2019 when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice denied the request of convicted murderer Patrick Murphy to have a Buddhist spiritual adviser in the execution chamber.
Senate Bill 1156, spearheaded by a Tampa Bay area public defender and sponsored by a St. Petersburg lawmaker, would bar the state from seeking a death sentence for those with severe mental illnesses — if they can prove they were ill at the time of the offense.
Voices from across the legal system target a death sentence decision in the case of Toforest Johnson, a Black man who has spent two decades on death row. The case, in one of the country’s most active death-penalty states, is riddled with errors, says critics.
Virginia’s new Democratic majority, in full control of the General Assembly for a second year, pushed the repeal effort, arguing that the death penalty has been applied disproportionately to people of color, the mentally ill and the indigent.