Oklahoma uses nitrogen gas for execution

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Oklahoma has not carried out an execution since 2015 after a series of mishaps, including a botched lethal injection in 2014.

In a statement, Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender, who is representing Oklahoma death row prisoners in an execution method lawsuit, said the process must proceed with "due diligence and caution".

State officials are announcing a plan to develop new execution protocol using gas inhalation after three consecutive years have passed without an execution in Oklahoma amid controversy over lethal injection.

Since 2015, state law has allowed for execution by nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection is unavailable. "How can we trust Oklahoma to get this right when the state's recent history reveals a culture of carelessness and mistakes in executions?" "I believe in justice for victims and their families, and in capital punishment as appropriate for dealing with those whose commit these crimes".

Grand jurors said nitrogen gas would be easy and cheap to obtain for executions, simple to administer and, according to scientific research, quick and seemingly painless.

There's a nationwide shortage of an anesthetic component of a three-part mixture used in some lethal injections. (Pruitt is now head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.) Multiple prominent officials stepped down during the investigation into the drug mix-up.

In 2014, the execution of Clayton Lockett gained worldwide attention when he kicked, writhed and grimaced for 20 minutes before his execution was called off; he died of a heart attack not long after.

Calling the protocol "experimental", he added, "It's a very different story when you're trying to put to death a person who wants to stay alive than somebody who's seeking to have euthanasia or someone who dies from accidental ingestion".

Warner's execution, which was scheduled to occur the same night as Lockett's, was ultimately postponed until the following January.

The attorney general's office has said in court filings that it will not request any execution dates until at least five months after the new protocols are released.

Oklahoma residents strongly backed a measure in 2016 that gave lawmakers the ability to adopt any constitutional method of execution, which Hunter, who replaced Pruitt, cited on Wednesday.

"As state leaders, it is our duty to find an effective and humane manner that satisfies both the Constitution and the court system", Hunter said.

Oklahoma's announcement follows years of national turmoil about execution drugs, including pitched legal battles and resistance from pharmaceutical companies that have questioned whether their products should be used in death chambers.

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