Alabama was the third state for the execution of the prisoners by the nitrogen gas Thursday. A file image of a gas chamber is here to see.
Alabama was the third state for the execution of the prisoners by the nitrogen gas Thursday after Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation that permits the practice, as an alternative to the lethal injection.
The new law would allow execution by nitrogen hypoxia when lethal injection drugs are not available or ruled unconstitutional. The breathing of the inert gas causes oxygen in the bloodstream.
According to AL.com, prisoners on death row could also choose to be electrocuted, but no one has done since Alabama adopted lethal injection in 2002.
The bill overwhelmingly passed the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday after it was approved unanimously by the State Senate last month. Supporters argued the state should use another method of executing death sentences as drug companies are reluctant with the delivery of chemicals for executions and lethal injection faces continued court challenges.
“It would just put him to sleep. It is humane. It is fast, and it is painless,” Republican Rep. Jim Hill, of Moody, said during the debate.
Opponents of the bill questioned how lawmakers could assert would be painless, because the method has not yet been tried.
“We had Yellow Mama. Now, we are going to bring back the gas chamber,” Rep. Thomas Jackson, a Democrat from Thomasville, said, referring to the nickname of the state is yellow painted electric chair.
Last week, Oklahoma officials announced that they would use nitrogen to execute prisoners as soon as the state resumed using the death penalty. Attorney General Mike Hunter said the administration of the gas would be likely to require the use of a mask placed over the detainee’s head, but he said that the mechanical details are still to be worked out.
Oklahoma put executions on hold in 2015 after a series of execution of the accidents. In 2014, a botched lethal injection left an inmate writhing on the gurney. The following year, a prisoner was executed with a non-approved drug, and a second prisoner was a few steps away from being led to the death chamber before prison officials realized the same wrong medication was concerned for his execution.
Since then, there are a number of top officials linked to the botched executions have terminated, and the state multicounty grand jury issued a scathing report about Oklahoma’s lethal injection process that suspect a number of people involved in the process of sloppy and careless work.
The Oklahoma Legislature formally approved the use of nitrogen gas as an execution method in 2015. Mississippi was the second state to approve the method of last year.
Four other states, the use of a gas chamber as an alternative method of execution, such as Arizona, California, Missouri and Wyoming, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.