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Oklahoma Plans To Be The First State To Use Nitrogen For Executions
15 March 2018, 05:45 | Myrtle Vega
Oklahoma will resume executions after 3-year hold — with nitrogen gas
As the drugs become increasing hard to obtain, Oklahoma will stop using lethal injection and plans to become the first to execute inmates using the untried method of inert gases, officials announced Wednesday.
Because executioners haven't tried hypoxia, death penalty opponents are sure to argue in court that there's no way to know how much an inmate will suffer, creating the risk of "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Constitution.
Many states have slowed their lethal injection executions as the drugs have become hard to obtain in the past two years amid a nationwide shortage and after some drug companies mandated their products not be used to kill inmates.
Since then, several top officials connected to the bungled executions have resigned and the state's multicounty grand jury delivered a scathing report on Oklahoma's lethal injection process that accused a number of individuals involved in the process of sloppy and careless work.
We can no longer sit on the sidelines and wait on the drugs. Using an inert gas will be effective, simple to administer, easy to obtain and requires no complex medical procedures.
Oklahoma has not executed an offender since January 15, 2015, when Charles Warner was put to death for the 2003 slaying of 11-month-old Adrianna Waller.
In 2014, Clayton Lockett regained consciousness during his execution because the IV wasn't properly placed. In 2015, an execution was reportedly carried out with the wrong drug, and a second halted after a similar issue was discovered.
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Oklahoma has 16 inmates on death row who have exhausted all appeals, Hunter's spokeswoman said.
If the plan and protocols withstand court scrutiny, Oklahoma would become the first state to use the method in executions. Executions would resume as soon as possible after that.
The state put executions on hold after that.
"My discussions with individuals, seedy individuals who had access to drugs, even with other states with access to drugs, has proven to be for nought".
In addition, Allbaugh said inmates have stopped hydrating days and weeks leading up to executions, which makes it more hard for medical personnel to insert needles.
"If lethal injection is held unconstitutional, or is unavailable, an execution shall be carried out by nitrogen hypoxia", Hunter said.
Oklahoma officials said they had chosen nitrogen in part because it is often used in places where assisted suicide is legal.
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