On Friday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed a bill that allows the state to execute inmates using nitrogen gas in the event that traditional lethal injection drugs are unavailable. The use of nitrogen gas, which induces hypoxia, has never been tested on humans, but supporters maintain that the method is both humane and painless.
Fallin said in a statement:
“Oklahoma executes murderers whose crimes are especially heinous. I support that policy, and I believe capital punishment must be performed effectively and without cruelty. The bill I signed today gives the state of Oklahoma another death penalty option that meets that standard.”
The AP notes that executions in the state are currently on hold while the Supreme Court determines whether or not their “three-drug method of lethal injection is constitutional.” The bill essentially gives Oklahoma method to execute death row inmates while the state’s preferred method is suspended.
Oklahoma’s three-drug method of execution came under fire following the 2014 botched execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett was administered an untested mixture of drugs that included a sedative. The state tried to halt the execution when he began writhing and moaning. Lockett died 43 minutes later.
The problematic execution was blamed on a poorly placed intravenous line and prompted a lawsuit from Oklahoma death-row inmates, who argue that the state’s new drug combination presents a serious risk of pain and suffering. The US supreme court is scheduled to hear arguments later this month.
Under the new law, lethal injection would remain the state’s first choice for executions and nitrogen gas would be its first backup method [...]
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