AL approves nitrogen gas execution option for death row inmates

AL approves nitrogen gas execution option for death row inmates
Authorities say an Alabama death row inmate was found dead in his cell from an apparent suicide. (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed legislation that gives the state's death row inmates a new option in how they will be executed.

Now, inmates will be able to choose among lethal injection, the electric chair, or nitrogen hypoxia.

Ivey granted final approval for the "Death by Nitrogen" bill after it overwhelmingly passed Alabama's House Tuesday by a vote of 75-23.

By breathing in the gas, oxygen is depleted from the body's bloodstream, eventually leading to death.

The state joins Mississippi and Oklahoma as the only others allowing the nitrogen method for execution, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The method has never been used by any state to execute an inmate, however, and remains untested.

ACLU of Alabama Executive Director Randall Marshall called the legislation's passage "deeply troubling" in a statement made Wednesday. "The state should not be sanctioning unproven and untested methods for treatment of any kind, but especially not to kill people," he said. "If they are having difficulty obtaining approved drugs for executions, then perhaps it is time to reconsider whether we should be performing them at all."

Supporters of the legislation say it can be humane.

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