The Tulsa World reports, "Lawmaker wants nitrogen gas to be used for executions," by Ziva Branstetter. It's the most detailed of the news reports.
A state lawmaker said Tuesday he plans to file a bill legalizing use of nitrogen gas to execute inmates, calling the method more “practical and efficient” than the current lethal injection process.
Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, said Tuesday that the state can lead the way nationally in coming up with a better way to execute people. Christian is leading an interim legislative study into the issue following the botched April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett.
“We did come up with the idea of lethal injection, and it was very innovative in 1977. Well, we are in the 21st century now, and I think we can do a lot better,” Christian said.
Michael Copeland, an assistant professor of criminal justice at East Central University, discussed the results of a study he and others at the university conducted on the issue. Copeland said the study reviewed available literature on the effects of “hypoxia” on pilots, divers and others who are deprived of oxygen.
If people are able to breathe inert gas such as nitrogen and continue to exhale, they quickly become unconscious and die within minutes without distress or pain, he said.
"Lawmakers weigh adoption of new execution method," is by Janelle Stecklein of CNHI News Service, via the Muskogee Daily Phoenix.
Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, said he requested the study following the clumsy April 29 execution of 38-year-old Clayton Lockett in which it took him more than 40 minutes to die from the state’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail of midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. A probe ultimately found that the IV administering the drug through Lockett’s groin came loose, prolonging the death.
Christian said he initially was going to suggest the state switch to execution by firing squad, but now believes that nitrogen hypoxia would be a more practical, efficient, humane and innovative way to “put these folks down that are on death row.”
Copeland said no other states or countries have used nitrogen hypoxia in executions so his team had to rely on literature review and experiences reported by pilots suffering from oxygen deprivation to reach its conclusions. No medical professionals would agree to assist in the analysis because of ethical concerns that could affect their licensing, he added.
Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, said officials have previously considered the possibility of using nitrogen hypoxia, but it has failed because some Oklahomans perceive it to be a “non-vengeful” method of execution.
The Oklahoman reports, "Oklahoma representative proposes replacing lethal injection executions with nitrogen gas," by Graham Lee Brewer.
Killing inmates by introducing a gas to slowly replace their oxygen supply is a more humane and cost-effective method of execution than lethal injection, a lawmaker said Tuesday at an interim study at the state Capitol.
Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, proposed to members of the House Judiciary Committee that the state begin executing inmates using nitrogen gas, allowing the condemned inmate to lose consciousness within a matter of seconds, and die soon after.
“We are a capital punishment state,” Christian said. “Overwhelmingly, the people of Oklahoma support capital punishment, and I think at the end of the day when they look at this method they will support it, and I think we’ll get it passed.”
"Legislators explore gas as execution option," is AP coverage by Sean Murphy, via the Danbury News Times.
"After visiting with my friends at (East Central University) ... we think we've found a solution," said Christian, R-Oklahoma City, who said he plans to draft a bill before the start of the 2015 legislative session
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who has successfully sought the death penalty against several convicted killers, told members of the committee that if a law were passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor, even inmates already sentenced to death could be executed using the new method.
A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin declined to comment on the use of nitrogen gas to execute inmates.
"The governor's focus now is on ensuring the DPS recommendations are implemented properly," said Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz. "It's too early in the legislative process for the governor to comment on a bill that may be filed in the future."
"Oklahoma legislator proposes nitrogen for executions," is by Heide Brandes of Reuters, via the Columbus Dispatch.
Oklahoma’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the method.
“Oklahomans tend to question their government over everything except for executions,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “Inherently, all executions are flawed. There will always be mistakes.”
After the study, Christian said he plans to file a bill introducing the use of nitrogen gas as an execution method in next year’s legislative session.
Earlier coverage from Oklahoma begins at the link. More news from Oklahoma in the next post.