Alabama’s proposed procedures to carry out executions with nitrogen gas include fitting a mask over the inmate’s face and replacing their breathing air with nitrogen until their heart stops.
The state described the procedures for the proposed new execution method in a redacted court filing. Alabama is seeking to become the first state to execute a prisoner using nitrogen. Nitrogen hypoxia has been authorized as an execution method in Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi, but no state has used the method to carry out a death sentence.
Nitrogen makes up 78% of the air inhaled by humans and is harmless when inhaled with proper levels of oxygen. Under the proposed execution method of nitrogen hypoxia, an inmate would be forced to breathe only nitrogen, depriving them of oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions and causing them to die.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Friday asked the Alabama Supreme Court to set an execution date for Kenneth Smith, 58, using nitrogen hypoxia as the method of execution. The attorney general’s office included a redacted copy of the protocol in a court filing asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Smith. Smith, in seeking to block the state’s second attempt to execute him by lethal injection, had argued that nitrogen should be available.
According to the protocol, the inmate would be escorted into the execution chamber, now used for lethal injections, placed on the gurney and have a mask fitted over their face. The warden would then read the death warrant and give the inmate a chance to give a final statement up to two minutes long. Execution team members would then make a final inspection of the mask. The warden, from another room, would then “activate the nitrogen hypoxia system.”
Source : WBHM