Alabama lawmakers approve nitrogen execution for death row inmates

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A bill to allow death row inmates to be executed by nitrogen gas passed the Alabama House on Tuesday on a 75-23 vote.

Under existing law, a capital defendant may choose to be executed by means of lethal injection or electrocution. SB128, sponsored by Montrose-Republican State Sen. Tripp Pittman, would allow the condemned to choose execution by nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection is unavailable, or if they so elect.

During debate of the bill, lawmakers questioned whether or not it was humane.

“It would simply put him to sleep. It’s humane. It’s quick, and it’s painless,” Moody- Republican Rep. Jim Hill said.

The method, which the Death Penalty Information Center says never been used to execute someone, seals the inmate in an airtight chamber pumped full of nitrogen gas, causing death by a lack of oxygen.

Many experts corroborate Hill’s assertions. They believe those who die by nitrogen asphyxiation usually never know what hit them.

The Senate voted in favor of the legislation, 29 to 0, in February. It now moves to Gov. Kay Ivey‘s desk where she can choose to sign it into law or veto the measure.