US states could use nitrogen to execute prisoners

Underground methods of illegal assisted suicide could be used as a model for capital punishment in the United States. The New York Times reports that states are looking for alternative methods of executing prisoners after some of them suffered greatly during lethal injections.

One solution is inhaling nitrogen, a method promoted by groups like the Final Exit Network in the US and Exit International in Australia. Nitrogen is not poisonous in itself, but in the absence of oxygen, a person will suffocate painlessly.

Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi allow nitrogen to be used for executions. Although there has been no scientific research into its use as a method of dispatching humans, there is anecdotal evidence from industrial accidents and from assisted suicide groups. Apparently it does not lead to the feeling of suffocation which comes from a build-up of carbon dioxide in the lungs.  

An Arizona company reportedly has prepared a gas chamber which will work with nitrogen. Its product is called a “euthypoxia chamber” which is supposed to be pain-free and mistake-free. It guaranteed “the demise of any mammalian life within 4 minutes.”

“If and when states begin carrying out executions with nitrogen, it will amount to the same type of experimentation we see in the different variations of lethal injection,” Jen Moreno, a lawyer with Berkeley Law Death Penalty Clinic told the New York Times.

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | assisted suicide, capital punishment, United States

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