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A Possible Return to the Electric Chair Appears Amidst SC’s Death Row Crisis

By David L. Hawkins, III / Published on Friday, 11 Jan 2019 23:29 PM / No Comments / 54 views

State Rep. Eddie Tallon of Spartanburg and Republican Representative Bruce Bryan of Lake Wylie are proposing a new bill to bring back the electric chair as SC’s default method of carrying out the death penalty.

The death penalty has been an important, yet very disregarded, issue in South Carolina and many other states due to pharmaceutical companies refusing to replenish states’ lethal injection drugs. The prices for lethal injections has skyrocketed and there have been many concerns over how humane lethal injections really are. SC’s final execution occurred in 2011 and the lethal injection supply went dry in 2013.

Part of Catherine Templeton’s campaign promises during her 2018 gubernatorial run was a return to firing squads. This bill to bring back the electric chair is certainly in the same vein. The firing squad is likely a lot more fool proof than the electric chair. Like lethal ejections, the electric chair has been the subject of horrifying stories in which the usual wattage/dosage was not enough to kill the inmates. In a free society, it is questionable to even subject our worst monsters to such fates.

“Since August 6, 1912, there have been 282 executions carried out by the State of South Carolina. Prior to this date, executions were by hanging in the individual counties. Of the 282, 74 were white and 208 were black. Also, 280 were men and two were women.”

The above excerpt is from the South Carolina Department of Corrections website, which features useful statistics and other information on the death penalty in our state. The race division has luckily also gotten narrower as time has progressed. It is best we do not repeat horrifying instances of racism such as the wrong conviction of 14-year-old George Stinney Jr, who remains the youngest person sentenced to death in 20th century America. His case occurred here in South Carolina and I recommend reading into the entirety of the case, where he was accused and convicted and killing 2 white girls in 1944. The decision was later overturned in 2014.

George Stinney Jr’s mugshot

A chart found on the website shows that the first death sentence carried out by lethal injection in SC occurred in 1995 while our final death sentence to be carried out by electrocution occurred in 2008.

Between 1912 and 1991, there were 245 sentences carried out by electrocution, and that many total. After 1995, a mere 3 sentences were carried out by electrocution and there are significant gaps between each one. The total executions after 1995, with the single lethal injection one in 1995 included, is 39. Luckily, the number of executions are on the decline but there are currently 36 inmates on SC’s death row.

Among these inmates are 3 from Spartanburg: Ricky Blackwell Sr, Marion Lindsay, and Andres Antonio Torres.

Ricky Blackwell Sr. was sentenced to death in 2014 for the killing of an 8-year-old girl. He had kidnapped the girl as well. While his ex-wife and grandsons were forced to watch, he choked his victim before shooting her 4 times. This was an act of revenge against his ex-wife for being in a relationship with the girl’s father.

Marion Lindsey was sentenced to death in 2004 for the killing of his estranged wife. Around the same time, Lindsey had debated whether or not to drive his car off of a cliff to end his life. His extreme depression culminated in shooting his wife to death outside of the Inman Police Department. He pleaded with the court to spare him so that he could be a father to his 2 children, but the nail in the coffin ended up being him killing his wife in a public place which created a dangerous situation for even more bystanders.

Andres Antonio Torres was sentenced to death in 2007 for a double homicide involving a Drayton couple whom he had beaten mercilessly with a hammer and sexually assaulted. Torres attempted to claim the case was mishandled but it was determined that existing evidence only led to Torres and no other individuals.

These are only 3 of the men currently on death row. How the current death row situation will be rectified remains to be seen. One could argue that these men should just live the rest of their lives in prison, while others rally for the cheapest yet most humane form of the death penalty. Lethal injections, which once seemed to be the future of execution, are not proving to be more costly than a life in prison funded by taxpayers.

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