Our last blog entry tackled the issue of putting innocent people on death row. In a related piece of news apparently Oklahoma is considering using nitrogen gas as a form of execution.
An Oklahoma politician (Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City) recently requested a formal review into the merits of using nitrogen gas as an execution method. Apparently the death penalty issue is dear to Christian who earlier this year, according to Sentencing Law and Policy, argued for the impeachment of Oklahoma Supreme Court justices who supported a temporary stay of the execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett. “I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don’t care if it’s by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, guillotine or being fed to the lions,” Christian, a former state trooper, said then. “I look forward to justice being served.”
After a renewed national debate concerning the death penalty after the botched execution of Lockett, Christian said the nitrogen study "would explore the idea of giving condemned prisoners the option of death by firing squad, hanging or the electric chair, with firing squads made the primary, default option."
It is believed Nitrogen gas will alleviate the often horrendous results caused by lethal injection by causing the inmate to fall asleep before dying and by reportedly causing no physical discomfort.
While nitrogen gas may be more efficient execution tool than lethal injection, it still begs the comparison to whether we really want to be a country that employs similar killing techniques as employed by Nazi Germany during World War II. During that war, Nazi's regularly "euthanized" Jewish people through the use of gas.
From a legal standpoint gas may in fact be a better option as there have been numerous suits filed arguing the cruelness of lethal injection. That is, it is argued that it is not rare for the inmate to suffer during the injection process; there have been many cases of apparent excruciating pain, inmates being awake, inmates trying to stand, of them writhing, convulsing, and moaning. If nitrogen provides alleviates these concerns then legally it is preferable. But as a nation we still must be wary of the comparison of the horrible things that happened during World War II.