Alabama In Crisis Mode After Another Botched Execution

In January, death row convict Kenneth Eugene Smith was executed using the contentious nitrogen hypoxia method. In response, lawmakers in Alabama have submitted a measure to outlaw the whole procedure.

Interestingly, the practice of nitrogen hypoxia, when a prisoner is executed by inhaling pure nitrogen, was initially used in Alabama as a “more merciful alternative to lethal injection.”

In 2018, a measure authorizing the state of Alabama to execute people using nitrogen hypoxia was enacted by the legislature. The manner of execution had never been tried before, yet death row convicts in Alabama begged to be executed using the hypothetical approach.

Due to the shortage of lethal injection medications, several brutal executions have taken place throughout the country using other drug mixtures. In recent years, prison personnel in Alabama have failed on many occasions to properly insert an IV line containing the fatal injection chemicals, leading to botched executions.

In January, nitrogen hypoxia killed Smith, who had previously survived a failed attempt at a fatal injection. Last year, Smith’s attorneys successfully argued that nitrogen hypoxia would be an inhumane alternative to lethal injection, but they later changed their minds in a last-ditch effort to spare his life.

A witness said it was brutal. Smith struggled to get out of his restraints and shook and writhed on a gurney as he died from nitrogen hypoxia, making him the first known person to be executed in this manner.

Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-Birmingham) of Alabama presented a measure to outlaw nitrogen hypoxia on February 27, thereby reinstituting the use of lethal injection in the majority of executions.

Although it is legal to use the electric chair for execution in Alabama, few prisoners would want to do so.

Many who are against the death penalty have portrayed the bill, which is unlikely to be passed, as an effort to do away with a harsh manner of execution.

Executions by fatal injection are notoriously brutal, and nitrogen hypoxia seems to be another horrible way to die.