State Politics

This candidate running to be SC governor calls for return of firing squad

Guns, unions and the Confederacy: meet Catherine Templeton - your next governor?

Catherine Templeton is running for SC Governor as a self-proclaimed conservative political outsider. Here are some of the policies on her platform.
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Catherine Templeton is running for SC Governor as a self-proclaimed conservative political outsider. Here are some of the policies on her platform.

In the wake of Sunday's deadly riot at a South Carolina prison, one of the Republicans running for governor has called for bringing back firing squads.

On a radio program, Catherine Templeton said firing squads should be revived in the Palmetto State. The Republican made the comments Tuesday on the Bob Mclain Show.

“Criminals legally sentenced to death are getting an unofficial reprieve right now as South Carolina goes without the drugs necessary for lethal injection,” Templeton said. “We must make the death penalty swift and final. I will push for legislation allowing firing squads for court-ordered executions. And I will also seek to deny condemned inmates their choice of execution.”

Templeton, who was a Cabinet director under former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, made her comments a little more than a day after the riot at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville late Sunday that left seven inmates dead.

The Charleston attorney is not the first politician in South Carolina to try and revive the use of the firing squad. S.C. Rep. Josh Putnam, R-Anderson, filed a bill in February that called for firing squads to help execute the state’s death row inmates.

Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah are currently the only states that have execution by firing squad, according to deathpenaltyinfo.org.

Use of firing squads was banned in Utah in 2004, but revived in 2015, when legislation was enacted to allowing execution by firing squad if the drugs used for lethal injection are unavailable.

Take a look into SC's dark history of death row and how serial killer Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins carried out a revenge killing of another inmate.

In November 2017, Gov. Henry McMaster announced that South Carolina does not have the drugs necessary to carry out lethal injection. The deadly mix requires three drugs — pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride — all of which the state does not have.

Templeton has been critical of McMaster on this issue, and for his handling of the criminal justice system.

“Under Henry McMaster’s watch, prisoners have been rioting and jumping fences. They use cell phones to get access to drugs and contact criminal cronies,” Templeton said on the radio program. “When I’m governor, once criminals are put in prison, they will no longer dictate or demand special favor.”

McMaster's campaign responded to Templeton's remarks, disputing some of her attacks on the governor.

​"Governor McMaster has locked up scores of criminals during his career as U.S. attorney and South Carolina attorney general, and as governor he has led the charge in giving prisons the resources they need to be secure and keep contraband out of the hands of prisoners," Campaign Communications Director Caroline Anderegg told The State. "Catherine Templeton's false and misleading attacks are nothing but a cheap political gambit by a candidate with zero understanding of or experience in law enforcement.

"The only people responsible for this horrific violence are the criminals who perpetrated it, and for Templeton to suggest otherwise is a disgusting new low."

Including Templeton and McMaster, there are five Republicans running for governor. That also includes Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill and businessman John Warren.

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