The state legislature of Oklahoma on 9 April 2015 passed a bill that allows use of nitrogen gas (nitrogen-induced hypoxia) as a method of execution. The bill was passed by the legislature without a single dissenting vote.
The bill now awaits the signature of the governor's signature to become a law. With Governor’s nod, Oklahoma will become the first state in the United States that will allow use of nitrogen for execution.
The supporters of the bill claim that poisoning through nitrogen-induced hypoxia is more humane and painless way to die. It also does not require any medical expertise.
Why the need for executions by nitrogen gas?
Oklahoma is one among the several states of the US which were considering for alternative methods of execution as they were struggling to obtain lethal injection drugs due to nationwide shortage.
The shortage occurred after European manufacturers opposing capital punishment refused to sell the drugs to them.
Further, the use of drug midazolam for executions by Oklahoma was condemned after an inmate struggle for almost an hour during a lethal injection execution. Midazolam is the first drug that was applied to a prisoner during an execution. It was followed by two others which stop the heart and cause death. But the supply of the alternatives is short in supply.
Also, the US Supreme Court will review the use of midazolam for executions by the end of April 2015.
Electrocution and firing squad are the backup methods currently available to Oklahoma and in case if lethal injection drugs are unavailable or ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, then these nitrogen gas chambers will become the primary backup method for execution for Oklahoma.
When: 9 April 2015