Delayed justice: No death on SC death row (Pt. 1)
COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) -In April, Arkansas executed two convicted murderers on the same day, a first in almost 17 years for any state.
In South Carolina, there have been 43 executions since 1985 and the process seems to have come to a standstill. Currently, there are 38 men on South Carolina's death row.
Jeffrey Motts was the last person executed in 2011. Two years after his execution, one of the drugs needed for lethal injection in South Carolina expired.
The state has not had a way of executing anyone on death row unless they choose to die by electrocution.
I've asked my folks to go and start calling companies to give us the drug and sell us the drug and once we tell them what we're going to use the drug for, for lethal injection, the companies don't want anything to do with us," said Bryan Stirling, South Carolina Department of Corrections Director.
Stirling says his department hasn't been able to obtain alternative drugs because pharmaceutical companies that have made them in the past has face a lot of outside pressure to end the practice.
"Anti-death penalty people have been very effective in going to these companies that supply these drugs to departments of corrections across the country and stopping them from selling the drugs to DOC's across the country," said Stirling.
The agency considered making the lethal injection drugs themselves but the process can be costly. The last known estimate was roughly $1,000,000.
Stirling says he took his concern about the shortage to state lawmakers, "two years ago I went to the legislature and testified and warned them that we do not have the drug and there's no guarantee that if we did go and buy the proper equipment to make the drugs that we could still by the ingredients to compound the drug."
Legal experts say its not as simple has having the drugs on hand but rather the legal process in the court system.
"I think it's not unusual you know that South Carolina has this long length of time for the appellate process but I do think that South Carolina has a particularly high reversal rate in capital cases," said Attorney Lindsey Vann.
According to local criminal justice group, Justice360, more than 60 percent of all death sentences are overturned and legally no one in South Carolina is ready to be executed.
Fred Singleton is the state's longest-serving death row inmate. He ws sentenced to death in 1983 for the rape and murder of a Newberry Teacher.
Its been 34 years and he still can't be executed until he is declared mentally fit to face a sentencing trial
Reporter: What do you say to families who feel justice hasn't been served because the person who killed their loved one is still on death row?
Stirling: "I could not speak and could not imagine what it would be like to lose a loved one and have the person sitting on death row and not have that justice delivered I just couldn't imagine what they're going through."
Next week, we speak with the daughter of a death row victim. Urai Jackson was murdered 23 years ago in her Lexington County home and everyday her daughter hopes for closure. Tune in for her story Wednesday night on WACH Fox News at Ten.