On Wednesday, Oklahoma announced that nitrogen gas could be used in future executions as lethal injections are unavailable due to a statewide drug shortage. Nitrogen gas deprives death row inmates of oxygen until they die.
Authorities said they are working on a protocol to use the new execution method in practice, even though the method remains controversial.
Attorney General Mike Hunter said the new type of execution will enable the state to resume executions and serve justice for the victims of death row inmates. Hunter explained that it is more and more difficult to find the drugs needed for lethal injections legally and getting them illegally has not been an option.
In addition, lethal injections are not 100% failproof. Inmate Doyle Lee Hamm, who waited three decades on the death row, was punctured nearly a dozen times in a botched execution last month.
Oklahoma is not the only U.S. state to seek other execution methods. like firing squad and electric chair. This is because drug companies no longer provide prisons with the drugs needed for a lethal injection.
Oklahoma Had To Put On Hold Executions
The last time an execution was carried out in the Sooner State was three years ago. The last two attempts were unsuccessful, with inmates suffering internal damage.
For instance, inmate Clayton Locket had a heart attack during the execution after regaining consciousness despite being given the legal injection. His death sparked a tidal wave of outrage, and the Obama administration ordered a review of execution methods.
In 2015, medics used potassium acetate in inmate Charles Warner’s injection because they lacked potassium chloride. Witnesses said they heard Warner cry that his body was on fire. The next execution had to be canceled because state prisons got the wrong drugs.
Later that year, nitrogen gas became a backup execution method in Oklahoma if lethal injection could not be administered. This year, authorities want to make nitrogen hypoxia the primary method.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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