New execution method in the United State raises concerns

New execution method in the United State raises concerns
Global Executions Are The Highest They've Been In 5 Years

Alabama could be the first US state to use nitrogen gas as a ‘more humane’ execution method after a surge in ‘botched’ lethal injections.

Nitrogen hypoxia is a form of gas asphyxiation that forces a person to breathe in only nitrogen gas, starving them of oxygen until they die.

In 2018, Alabama lawmakers approved the method as an alternative to the lethal injection, however the state’s legislature have not finalised all protocols for its use.

Alabama is not the only state to have approved the new method, Oklahoma and Mississippi have too. But so far none have used the new method. However, Alabama could be the first.

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Kenneth Smith, an Alabama inmate sentenced for his role in a 1988 murder-for-hire to kill Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett. Elizabeth’s husband hired Smith and his accomplice John Parker to kill his wife so he could collect her life insurance.

On Monday May 15, the Supreme Court sided with Smith who wants to executed by nitrogen gas. Smith was due to be executed last year by the state, but was called off after the state could not properly set the IV line.

Despite claims that execution by nitrogen hypoxia is more peaceful and humane, there have been push backs against the claim.

In 2022, Joel Zivot, an associate professor of anaesthesiology at Emory University, spoke to Scientific American. He told them that “there’s no evidence” for nitrogen gas being peaceful and not cruel.

There are also concerns that the use of nitrogen hypoxia equates to human experimentation, with Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, highlighted the fact that ‘it is completely untested.’ He asked questions such as “how do you ensure that the nitrogen won’t leak out or that oxygen won’t leak in?”

Others have called for the end of the death penalty completely. Executive director of Equal Justice USA, Jamila Hodge told the Guardian: ‘The death penalty, just like our broader criminal legal system, is one that is rooted in racism… [and] regardless of how it’s implemented, is wrong.’

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