Reprieve’s joint executive director Maya Foa has denounced executions by nitrogen hypoxia, reports The Mirror US. “There are so many ways this completely untested method of execution can go wrong. Staff are tasked with ensuring the mask is correctly placed yet there will be no staff present in the execution chamber during the execution.”
“Nitrogen is odorless and cannot be detected without specialised equipment,” Foa continued. “There is a chance that as the individual starts to feel the impact of the nitrogen gas they will thrash around and displace the mask, thereby reducing the efficacy of the gas delivery, which could lead to a drawn out and agonising death.”
Alabama is pushing to use Kenneth Smith as a guinea pig and to execute him by nitrogen hypoxia – despite the fact that three states have authorised it, this method has never been used.
“Nitrogen gas can also lead to vomiting. If the prisoner vomits within the mask, this could cause them to choke and suffocate on their own vomit. The effect of using nitrogen gas on unwilling participants has not been analysed, and because it has not been used as a method to execute anyone before, it is impossible to know how much prisoners will suffer.”
She added: “Alabama continues to carry out grotesque human experiments on its death row prisoners. Last year three executions in the state went catastrophically wrong, leading to men being tortured extensively in the death chamber – including the longest recorded execution in US history.”