Oklahoma Says It Will Use Nitrogen Gas in Executions

Oklahoma Says It Will Use Nitrogen Gas in Executions

In 2016, the state's multicounty grand jury recommended Oklahoma use nitrogen gas as the execution method given the increasing difficulty in obtaining the proper drugs for lethal injections.

Attorney General Mike Hunter and Joe Allbaugh, the director of the Oklahoma Corrections Department, made the announcement Wednesday at a news conference at the Capitol.

Not everyone is on board with the new method, however, a public defender for one death row prisoner 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?"

Oklahoma has not carried out an execution since 2015 after a series of mishaps, including a botched lethal injection in 2014.

Hunter's office said that making nitrogen gas the state's primary method of execution, rather than a backup, was a result of the state's inability to obtain lethal injection drugs.

"It is the - a common procedure in states and in countries that allow for assisted suicide", Hunter said. 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.

In 2014, Oklahoma drew intense scrutiny for its death-penalty procedures after the execution of Clayton Lockett gained global attention. That puts Oklahoma's first executions by inert gas inhalation at least eight months away.

In addition to six death row inmates whose executions have been stayed, 12 death row inmates have exhausted all of their appeals and are eligible to be scheduled for executions. He said state leaders had to "to utilize an effective and humane manner that satisfies both the Constitution and the court system".

Mr Hunter said: "Well documented research has shown that individuals who are exposed to excessive amounts of inert gas experience fatigue dizziness, perhaps a headache, loss of breath and eventual loss of consciousness".

The House Intelligence Committee has set itself a March 22 deadline to make changes to a draft report authored by panel Republicans, at which point they plan to adopt the report as final and send it on to the intelligence community for any necessary redactions of classified information. It was not likely until the end of the year at the earliest, The Oklahoman newspaper reported.

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