Oklahoma will resume executions after 3-year hold - with nitrogen gas

The gurney is seen in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary and the viewing room behind the glass

The specifics are still being worked out, but Hunter and Allbaugh said using the gas method would eliminate the key hurdles to lethal injections: delicate medical procedures that have gone awry and resulted in a botched execution, and the difficulty of obtaining lethal drugs that won't cause suffering that violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

MS has a law allowing nitrogen to be used in executions if the lethal injection method is unconstitutional or unavailable, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh announce their plan to use nitrogen gas in executions at a news conference at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

A state law passed in 2015 allows nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method if lethal injection is ever held to be unconstitutional or drugs are unavailable. After the state executed Charles Warner in January 2015, officials acknowledged they had used the wrong drug for his lethal injection, an admission that only came after officials hastily called off another execution because they also had the wrong drug for it.

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

Mr. Hunter, the attorney general, said studies described those who had been exposed to "excessive amounts" of inert gas as feeling "fatigue, dizziness, perhaps a headache, loss of breath and eventual loss of consciousness".

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The execution table in the death-penalty chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He later died in the death chamber of a heart attack. "It will be some time, I think, before an execution can be scheduled".

A spokeswoman for Hunter declined to comment on when executions might resume following a three-year hiatus. He said state leaders had to "to utilize an effective and humane manner that satisfies both the Constitution and the court system".

No state or country has ever used nitrogen for executions. But in recent years, even those states dedicated to continuing the practice have run into roadblocks amid a shortage of lethal injection chemicals, driven in part by drugmakers' objections to the death penalty.

Prior to the 2015 decision, the electric chair and firing squad would have been the backup options to the lethal injection in Oklahoma, The Washington Post reports.

Execution officials said the chemical element likely would be administered using a specially designed gas mask. When nitrogen gas was approved as a backup method in Oklahoma, the corrections department said there was no protocol in place, and that remained the case Wednesday, almost two years later. Forty-eight inmates are on death row.

The use of nitrogen gas has already been approved by the state legislature, but it was only a reserve method and has never been attempted anywhere in America.

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