OKLAHOMA (USA): NITROGEN GAS EXECUTIONS APPROVED BY THE HOUSE
March 3, 2015: The House voted 85-10 for HB 1879, the bill by Republican Rep. Mike Christian, who began studying alternative methods after a botched lethal injection in the spring that led the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of Oklahoma's current 3-drug method. Christian said numerous studies have been conducted on nitrogen hypoxia, which is similar to what pilots at high altitudes can encounter when oxygen supplies diminish. He described the method as humane, painless and easy to administer.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where a similar measure passed a committee earlier this year with bipartisan support.
Under the bill, lethal injection would remain the state's 1st method of execution, but nitrogen gas would become the second alternative method and be used if injection were declared unconstitutional or if the drugs became unavailable.
Under current law, electrocution is the 2nd option, followed by firing squad.
The bill would make electrocution the 3rd method, followed by firing squad. Executions in Oklahoma are on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the state's lethal injection method. The legal challenge, which was sparked by a botched execution last spring, centers on whether the sedative midazolam properly renders an inmate unconscious before the second and 3rd drugs are administered.
Oklahoma officials concede midazolam is not the preferred drug for executions, but death penalty states have been forced to explore alternatives as manufacturers of more effective drugs refuse to sell them for use in lethal injections. (Source: Associated Press, 03/03/2015)