Bills to hide the identities of lethal-injection drug suppliers and execution team members from the public have passed both chambers of the South Carolina legislature. The bills face a reconciliation process before one can move to the governor’s desk for signature. Proponents of the law say it is necessary because revealing such information might make executions difficult or impossible. South Carolina has not carried out an execution in 12 years. Opponents say the public has the right to know about government actions.

In 2021, in response to the state’s failure to obtain lethal-injection drugs, the legislature passed a law making the electric chair the default method of execution if such drugs were unavailable, and allowing an option to select the firing squad instead. Four death-row prisoners challenged those methods as unconstitutionally cruel and unusual. The initial court to review the matter found that these methods were unconstitutional under state law. In 2022, the South Carolina Supreme Court halted executions while it considered an appeal of that ruling. As part of that litigation, the court ordered the state in February 2023 to disclose what efforts it had made to obtain lethal-injection drugs.

Rep. Justin Bamberg (D–Smoaks) opposed the bill because he said the legislature could wait on the court decision or seek other ways to obtain execution drugs. “This is the complete opposite of honesty…we can find an expedient solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem that does have a solution,” he said. “We just haven’t done the work to find it.”

The bill passed the Senate 39-5 on February 22, 2023, and an amended version passed the House 80-22 on April 20.

DPIC has published a report on the growing practice of states’ hiding the facts about executions through secrecy laws: “Behind the Curtain: Secrecy and the Death Penalty in the United States” (2018).


Jeffrey Collins, South Carolina gets clos­er to lethal injec­tion secre­cy, Associated Press, April 192023.