Ala. moves forward with bill allowing execution by nitrogen gas

Officials said the execution method, formally known as nitrogen hypoxia, is a humane way to put someone to death


By Howard Koplowitz
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A bill to allow death row inmates to be executed by nitrogen gas passed the Alabama House on Wednesday.

"It's about options. It's not a debate about the death penalty," the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, told the committee.

Pittman said the execution method, formally known as nitrogen hypoxia, is a humane way to put someone to death. He said nitrogen hypoxia eventually leads to unconsciousness and then death.

"It's not like asphyxiation where you build up pain and your have some issues and you understand you're under duress," Pittman said.

The bill gives death row inmates the option to choose nitrogen hypoxia, electrocution or lethal injection. The executions would be conducted at Holman Correctional Facility at Atmore, and the bill gives the Department of Corrections the ability to choose the accommodations for them.

Rep. Mike Holmes, R-, said the bill would create a valid option in the wake of the state's struggles with lethal injection.

"We're having problems getting chemicals," Holmes noted.

Pittman said two states - Mississippi and Oklahoma - allow for death by nitrogen hypoxia but the method has yet to be used in an execution.

The state Senate passed the bill late last month. It now heads to the full House.

©2018 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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