Oklahoma Says It Will Use Nitrogen Gas in Executions

Oklahoma will resume executions after 3-year hold — with nitrogen gas

Oklahoma Attorney General announces new execution method for state

Attorney General Mike Hunter said, "We can no longer sit on the sidelines and wait to find drugs".

Oklahoma officials announced a plan to use nitrogen gas to execute inmates once the state resumes using the death penalty, marking the first time a US state would use the gas to carry out capital punishment. The court upheld Oklahoma's lethal injection methods, but executions remained on hold as a grand jury investigated how officials wound up using the wrong drug to execute an inmate earlier that year.

Oklahoma has had one of the busiest death chambers in the US, but hasn't carried out an execution since 2015 after a series of mishaps, including a botched lethal injection in 2014 that left an inmate writhing on the gurney.

At the news conference in Oklahoma on Wednesday, officials did not discuss the use of sedatives, but said they had not yet determined a protocol in which to carry out executions with nitrogen.

FOX23 reached out to area district attorneys about possible cases this could impact.

The DOC is working to develop a protocol and procedures for future executions.

In addition to six death row inmates whose executions have been stayed, 12 death row inmates have exhausted all of their appeals and are eligible to be scheduled for executions. Still, at a time when states have struggled to obtain lethal injection drugs, Oklahoma's move is the latest in a series of dramatic efforts some officials have made to continue carrying out death sentences.

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"Trying to find alternative compounds or someone with prescribing authority willing to provide us with the drugs is becoming exceedingly hard, and we will not attempt to obtain the drugs illegally", Oklahoma Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh said. Executions would resume as soon as possible after that. "I got to the point in finding these drugs that I was calling all around the world to the back streets of the Indian subcontinent".

"It is the - a common procedure in states and in countries that allow for assisted suicide", Hunter said.

"Argon, helium, nitrogen, they're all inert gases".

In a statement, Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender, who is representing Oklahoma death row prisoners in an execution method lawsuit, said the process must proceed with "due diligence and caution".

Don Heath, chair of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said he was "a little surprised" by the announcement.

"It's hard to say it's a good thing, killing people a different way", he said.

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