Oklahoma considering gas chambers for executions

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Oklahoma considering gas chambers for executions

Republican legislators in Oklahoma are pushing for the State to become the first to allow the use of nitrogen gas for the execution of death row prisoners.

RT reports: Oklahoma state House Republican lawmakers will hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill to make death by “nitrogen hypoxia” a back-up method of execution. The state’s lethal injection formula is currently under review by the Supreme Court, which will determine whether it violates the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Under current law in Oklahoma – where lethal injection has been used since 1990 – if that method were to be found to be unconstitutional, the state would use the electric chair. A firing squad would be the third option. The new bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Christian, said he wants to eliminate electrocution as a back-up method in order to replace it with the gas chamber.

You wouldn’t need a medical doctor to do it. It’s a lot more practical. It’s efficient,” Rep. Mike Christian, an Oklahoma City Republican, told the Associated Press.

Christian said that unlike traditional gas chambers that used drugs like cyanide, which cause a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood, breathing nitrogen would be painless because it leads to hypoxia – a gradual lack of oxygen in the blood, similar to what can happen to pilots at high altitudes.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, The Rev. Adam Leathers said he wished lawmakers would entertain abolishing the death penalty altogether, rather than spending time developing more efficient ways to kill people.

“It’s evidence of what a ludicrous idea this is to begin with,” Rev Leathers said “We’re scrambling around trying to figure out humane ways to kill someone.

“There isn’t a right way to do the wrong thing.”

Niamh Harris
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