Though the state of Oklahoma’s executions are under currently review by the Supreme Court (and Attorney General Eric Holder advocates a moratorium on all state-murders while the court deliberates), Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed a law making nitrogen gas the backup to lethal injections in the state, according to NBC News.
Fallin said in a statement on Friday, “I believe capital punishment must be performed effectively and without cruelty. The bill I signed today gives the state of Oklahoma another death penalty option that meets that standard.”
The state apparently needs another “option” because pharmaceutical companies have stopped selling the drugs needed for executions to prisons, and some states have gone rouge, scoring untested drugs in executions and even bringing back firing squads to carry out state-sponsored murder (see: Utah).
Nitrogen is reportedly not tested as an execution method, and works by starving the body of oxygen, reports NBC.
It may be the death penalty drug du jour in Oklahoma because the last time the state tried to kill someone, it was such as disaster that it may actually be unconstitutional.
Oklahoma’s executions are on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether its lethal injection combination — specifically the use of the controversial drug midazolam — is constitutional or too cruel to use on condemned murderers.
It was a badly botched execution in Oklahoma last April — when Clayton Lockett regained consciousness during his lethal injection — that reignited the national debate over capital punishment and unleashed a flood of lawsuits.
After the Lockett death, President Barack Obama had U.S. Attorney General Holder investigate the application of the death penalty, but Holder is not expected to complete this report before he leaves office, according to The Death Penalty Informatoin Center.
Oh, and not only is the death penalty infallible, Blacks on death row in Oklahoma are there four times the rate of whites, says The Atlantic in “Racism and The Execution Chamber.”