Governor To Decide On Nitrogen Gas Executions After Senate Passes Bill

Thursday, April 9th 2015, 5:29 pm
By: News 9

Thursday, a unanimous vote in the state Senate could give the state another option when executing death row inmates.

Nitrogen hypoxia has never before been used by any state to execute a death row inmate. But if signed by the governor, Oklahoma will be the first to use nitrogen for executions.

Criminal Justice professor Michael Copeland and other faculty at East Central University have studied this new method that would cause death by lack of oxygen. It has become known as a silent killer.

4/9/15 Related Story: Nitrogen Gas Execution Bill Heading To Oklahoma Governor

"The main points are that it's humane, you don't have to worry about supply problems and doesn't require the assistance of medical professionals," said Michael Copeland with East Central University.

The availability of lethal injection drugs has been well known and is one of the top concerns for the authors of the bill.

"There's a limited number of supply from the European and we're compounding pharmacists, so you either have it or you don't," said Sen. Anthony Sykes, Co-Author of HB 1879.

Those opposed of the new method call it "experimental".

National Anti-death Penalty Advocate Sister Helen Prejean told News 9, "We have this because the Supreme Court turned a blind eye to states when it ruled killing a conscious, imaginative person is legal. States are now allowed to experiment and Oklahoma has said "Why not this!?" What's next? Drano?”

HB1879 is partnered with a senate bill that will now go to a vote of the people and if approved it will reaffirm the death penalty and methods of execution can be changed.

Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish Death Penalty also stated:

“Executions are a waste of tax dollars. We absolutely don't want our dollars spent on another method of executions. Our dollars should be spent on public safety, public education, victim's families and cold cases.”

The Governor did not want to comment on the bill at this time. She said she would like to review the final version first before she makes her decision.