With Nitrogen Executions, Oklahoma Enters Uncharted Waters

Oklahoma moving toward gas executions after three-year death penalty hiatus amid lethal injection controversy

Oklahoma moving toward gas executions after three-year death penalty hiatus amid lethal injection controversy

As the drugs become increasing hard to obtain, Oklahoma will stop using lethal injection and plans to become the first to execute inmates using the untried method of inert gases, officials announced Wednesday.

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.

"We can no longer sit on the sidelines and wait on the drugs", Hunter said. Using an inert gas will be effective, simple to administer, easy to obtain and requires no complex medical procedures.

Dale Baich, a federal public defender and one of the attorneys representing Oklahoma death row prisoners in a federal lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection protocol said: "How can we trust Oklahoma to get this right when the state's recent history reveals a culture of carelessness and mistakes in executions?"

After the state executed Charles Warner in January 2015, officials acknowledged they had used the wrong drug for his lethal injection, and hastily called off another execution.

State law also allows officials to opt for firing squads or the electric chair in executions.

Vermont Unemployment Rate Low As Labor Shortage Builds
The state's unemployment rate in January 2018 is at record low 3,1%, state Department of Workforce Development reported. The nation's businesses added 313,000 new jobs in February, cutting the unemployment rate for black men and black women.

The state's attorney general, Mike Hunter, cited the use of nitrogen in assisted suicides as proof that it is humane.

In 2014, the execution of Clayton Lockett gained worldwide attention when he kicked, writhed and grimaced for 20 minutes before his execution was called off; he died of a heart attack not long after.

Seventeen inmates are eligible for execution and have exhausted the appeal process. "I was calling all around the world, to the back streets of the Indian sub-continent", Oklahoma Corrections Department Director Joe Allbaugh claimed to The Associated Press.

"There is a significant difference between when someone is seeking to terminate their own life - and they are not struggling and are willfully participating - and what happens when you involuntarily seek to terminate the life of someone who wants to live, and who will be struggling and trying not to breathe", Mr. Dunham said. The European Union in 2011 voted to prohibit the sale of the drug and seven other barbiturates to the United States for use in torture or executions. "It will be some time, I think, before an execution can be scheduled".

Hunter said the administration of the gas would probably require the use of a mask placed over the inmate's head, but he said the mechanical details still have to be worked out.

Now states are being forced to use new drug cocktails, scramble to restock their stores of drugs and review their lethal injection policies.

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