Capital punishment has been on the wane in the U.S., but a coming slate of executions has refocused attention on the use of the death penalty. Six executions are scheduled to be carried out by five states over the next three weeks. Richard Moore, a 57-year-old African-American man, is to be executed in South Carolina on April 29 for the 1999 murder of a convenience store clerk during a robbery. It would be the first execution in the southern state in over a decade, Agence France-Presse reports. Recent executions have been carried out by lethal injection but South Carolina has been forced to abandon that method because drug makers are refusing to supply the necessary ingredients. Moore had the choice between the electric chair and a firing squad of three rifle-toting volunteers from the Corrections Department. He chose the firing squad.
Moore's lawyers have challenged both methods of execution, arguing that they violate a constitutional ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" A judge agreed to hear their arguments. "The electric chair and the firing squad are antiquated, barbaric methods of execution that virtually all American jurisdictions have left behind," said Lindsey Vann, a lawyer for Moore. Electrocution has been used for seven of the 43 executions in South Carolina since 1985. The last time was in 2008. A firing squad has been used only three times in the U.S., all in Utah - since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment. There have been three executions in the U.S. this year. There were 11 in 2021, down from 17 in 2020.