New Execution Method Sparks Outrage

Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash

( – Alabama is the first state to use nitrogen as a death penalty method, despite this method being authorized in three states. Steve Marshall, the Alabama Attorney General’s office on Friday requested from the state Supreme Court to set the date for Kenneth Eugene Smith’s, 58, execution. The filing revealed that he was going to be put to death through the inhalation of nitrogen.

Smith was convicted in 1988, along with another, for the murder-for-hire killing of Elizabeth Sennett, the wife of a preacher. In a statement, Marshall stated that it was a “travesty” that for close to 35 years Smith has remained on the death row avoiding his death sentence.

Nitrogen hypoxia is achieved by having an inmate only breathe in nitrogen while completely depriving them of any oxygen. The air that people normally inhale has 78 percent nitrogen. When inhaled in combination with oxygen, nitrogen is harmless.

In 2018, Alabama was the first state to authorize nitrogen hypoxia as a response to the lethal injection drug shortage. However, thus far, the state has not used this method. Mississippi and Oklahoma have also authorized this death penalty method but have not yet used it.

Supporters of this method have claimed that the process is completely painless. However, those who oppose it have claimed that it was a type of human experimentation. The revelation that Alabama would soon be using this method has led to a new legal battle over whether or not it was constitutional. The Equal Justice Initiative has claimed that the state was going to be experimenting with a method that has never before been used.

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