Oklahoma Lawmaker Proposes Using Nitrogen Gas For Executions

Monday, September 15th 2014, 6:44 pm
By: News 9

Using nitrogen gas for executions is what one Oklahoma lawmaker plans to introduce as a bill next year for an alternative to lethal injection.

Rep. Mike Christian of Oklahoma City says he will release his plan Tuesday morning. The proposal will detail the cost, legality and manner the nitrogen would be used.

In the months following the execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett, the way the lethal injection was administered came under fire and forced some lawmakers to come up with alternative methods.

Christian has previously proposed using a firing squad and now he's suggesting nitrogen gas.

"People have been critical of me. They think it's too humane, because if you administer the nitrogen gas at slow levels, it's actually a euphoric death. And who wants to give somebody the ability to be euphoric when they pass, especially after the kind of crimes that these beasts have committed?" Christian said. “Lethal injections are on their way out. That way has had a lot of problems.”

Christian says about 20 states are looking into using nitrogen, but Oklahoma is the first to have a formal study. But ACLU executive director Ryan Kiesel says politicians should focus on whether Oklahoma should be putting people to death at all.

9/4/2014 Related Story: DPS Releases Findings Report In Clayton Lockett Execution

"Whether it's nitrogen gas or the guillotine or drawing or quartering or a firing squad or the current form of lethal injection, there is no full proof manner to ensure a consistent application of the death penalty that is going to guard against it being cruel inhumane," Kiesel said.

“I think an interim study like this misses the point entirely. We know the death penalty is applied disproportionately on the basis of income, race and quality of lawyer. We know innocent people are routinely exonerated, and with each passing century, we have a new method that is supposedly the latest and the greatest method, but we are better than the people that we are punishing. The state acting on behalf of the people of Oklahoma should not engage in the same sort of actions.”

The ACLU is currently working on a lawsuit concerning the accountability and transparency of Clayton Lockett's execution.

Christian says his new proposal will set the pace for other states conducting executions.

"Shows that we can do something humane and that's a lot more practical and innovative in the 21st century," Christian said.

The study will be presented on Tuesday at 9 a.m.at the Capitol. Scholars, lawyers, lawmakers as well as District Attorney David Prater are expected to present their findings.