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Alabama Seeks to Execute a Prisoner by Inhaling Pure Nitrogen

Alabama is attempting to become the first state to execute a prisoner by using pure nitrogen gas. The state attorney general’s office has filed a request with the Alabama Supreme Court to set an execution date for death row inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith. This method of execution, known as nitrogen hypoxia, has been authorized in three states but has never been put into practice.

Nitrogen hypoxia involves depriving the inmate of oxygen by making them breathe only nitrogen, which makes up 78% of the air we breathe. When inhaled with oxygen, nitrogen is harmless. Supporters believe that this new method would be painless, while opponents compare it to human experimentation.

The use of nitrogen hypoxia was authorized in Alabama in 2018 due to a shortage of drugs used in lethal injections. However, the state has not attempted to use this method until now. Although Oklahoma and Mississippi have also authorized nitrogen hypoxia, they have not carried out any executions using it.

The announcement that Alabama intends to use nitrogen hypoxia is expected to trigger legal debates regarding its constitutionality. The Equal Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group, opposes Alabama’s decision and argues that the state should not experiment with an unproven and unused execution method.

Alabama previously attempted to execute Kenneth Smith by lethal injection but encountered difficulties with inserting an intravenous needle. This was not the first time Alabama faced problems with lethal injections, prompting the governor to pause executions and conduct an internal review. Executions have since resumed in the state.

Smith was convicted for his involvement in a murder-for-hire case in 1988. His attorney argues that, after 35 years, it is time to carry out the death sentence. Alabama has been developing the nitrogen hypoxia execution method for several years but has revealed limited information about the process.

In conclusion, Alabama’s move to execute a prisoner by inhaling pure nitrogen gas has sparked controversy and concerns over the use of an untested method. This decision raises questions about the constitutionality and ethics of capital punishment. As the debate continues, it remains to be seen whether Alabama will carry out this execution and what implications it may have for the future of the death penalty in the United States.

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