Oklahoma on March 14, 2018 announced its plans to use Nitrogen Gas for executions. Oklahoma will be the first US State to use Nitrogen Gas for executions once it resumes using the death penalty.
The announcement was made by Attorney General Mike Hunter and Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh.
Nitrogen is an odourless and tasteless gas that makes up about 78 per cent of the air that humans breathe. However, it causes death when inhaled without any oxygen.
What led to the use of Nitrogen Gas?
Oklahoma used to be one of the busiest death chambers in the United States. However, it has not carried out executions since 2015 following a series of mishaps.
In one of the incidents, an inmate was seen writhing in pain due to a ruined lethal injection and in another case, an inmate was executed using a drug not approved by the State.
Moreover, Oklahoma and other states were not able to get the drugs required for lethal injections amid protests from drugmakers against using their products in executions.
Under the State Law, if lethal injection is unavailable, executions should be carried out by Nitrogen Gas inhalation. At present, there are 17 inmates on Oklahoma’s death row in line for execution, after losing appeals.
How will be the Nitrogen Gas used for executions?
Oklahoma would use Nitrogen Hypoxia - Asphyxiation as its primary means of execution by making the inmates inhale the inert gas, once it finalises the practice.
Inert Nitrogen Gas will be easy to obtain, simple to administer and requires no complex medical procedures.