Oklahoma Plans To Be The First State To Use Nitrogen For Executions

Oklahoma Plans To Be The First State To Use Nitrogen For Executions

State officials made the announcement Wednesday, saying they cannot get the drugs needed for lethal injections because some drugmakers oppose having their products used in executions.

The debate over lethal injection, which prompted court cases, execution delays and struggles to obtain drugs, led Oklahoma in 2015 to make nitrogen gas its backup execution method in instances when lethal injection could not be used.

Hunter said well-documented medical evidence shows that using nitrogen or other gases like argon and helium is "the safest, the best and most effective method available".

Executions have been on hold in Oklahoma for more than three years because of repeated problems with the lethal injection method. Oklahoma would be the first state to employ the method. (Pruitt is now head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.) Multiple prominent officials stepped down during the investigation into the drug mix-up. A bungled procedure in 2014 left an inmate writhing on the gurney. "It will be some time, I think, before an execution can be scheduled". That puts Oklahoma's first executions by inert gas inhalation at least eight months away.

Oklahoma residents strongly backed a measure in 2016 that gave lawmakers the ability to adopt any constitutional method of execution, which Hunter, who replaced Pruitt, cited on Wednesday.

While use of the death penalty has dramatically declined nationwide, a handful of states have been outliers and continued to carry out executions.

The grand jury said it found that secrecy surrounding how the DOC obtained the drugs used in Warner's execution and allocated for Glossip's was a factor in both having occurred contrary to the lethal injection protocol. Neither state has used the drug in a lethal injection so far.

Nitrogen gas exposure is known to cause death within minutes, with those exposed experiencing fatigue, dizziness, loss of breath and euphoria before losing consciousness, Hunter's office said in a statement.

On Tuesday night, Conaway appeared to backtrack from his earlier remarks, telling reporters that whether Russian meddling hurt Hillary Clinton or helped Trump was a "glass half-full, glass half-empty" question.

The DOC is working to develop a protocol and procedures for future executions.

State lawmakers then passed a law approving use of the gas.

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