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South Carolina now prepared to offer execution by firing squad for inmates sentenced to death

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Photo by Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Department of Corrections in South Carolina said Friday they were prepared to offer execution by firing squad for inmates that were sentenced to death.

The head of the department notified the Attorney General's office that the procedures and facilities were ready for the firing squad execution alternative.

The state passed a law in May making executions by firing squad available to inmates who were sentenced to death. Although the electric chair is the primary method of execution in South Carolina, inmates can choose firing squad or lethal injection, if available.

There are 35 inmates on death row in the state.

The department spent about $53,600 to establish the facilities necessary for the executions, according to Department of Corrections spokesperson Chrysti Shain.

Before any executions take place, the state's Supreme Court must approve of the specific operation of the firing squad.

Witnesses will be allowed to watch the executions by firing squad.

Among the inmates who are scheduled to be executed first are 63-year-old Brad Sigmon, who was convicted in 2002 of murdering his estranged girlfriend's parents with a baseball bat. Sigmon's girlfriend had broken off their three-year relationship and moved back home with her parents.

43-year-old Freddie Owens was sentenced to death in 1999 for shooting a convenience store worker in the head during a robbery because she was unable to open the store's safe. He also confessed to murdering a fellow inmate named Christopher Lee.

Opponents of the death penalty have made it harder for states to obtain the chemicals used in lethal injections in order to prevent them from implementing death sentences. South Carolina has been seeking lethal injection drugs since 2013 when it ran out and could not carry out executions.

Here's a local news report about the development:

South Carolina now ready to carry out executions by firing squad, officials say www.youtube.com

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