Execution or human experimentation as death row prisoner starved of oxygen

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Execution or human experimentation is the question many are asking as Alabama sets date for the first use of Nitrogen Hypoxia for death row prisoners.

James Houts, a Deputy State Attorney General, confirmed on Wednesday, September 14 that it is “very likely” the method would be available for Alan Miller’s execution next week. Miller has been on death row for more than 20 years.

Approved by the state in 2018 Nitrogen hypoxia has never been used nor has it ever been tested, a method that involves the prisoner only breathing nitrogen. That deprives the individual of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions causing the person to pass out and ultimately pass away.

Houts had confirmed in a court hearing earlier in the week that the state was ready to use the method, when asked in court by US District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. He added that a protocol for its use was being finalised and that the final decision for its usage would lie with the Corrections Commissioner John Hamm.

Alan Miller, who was convicted of killing three men in a workplace shooting rampage in 1999, is in court trying to block the use of lethal injection. He is due to be executed on September 22.

Miller has told authorities that he is fearful of needles and had a preference for nitrogen hypoxia, which is available in only two other states Mississippi and Oklahoma.

The use of nitrogen hypoxia was proposed as an alternative due to the difficulties in obtaining lethal injections, as well as ongoing litigation over its use.

The politician who originally proposed the usage said that the effect would be no different to that of a plane, with passengers passing out on depressurisation and the loss of oxygen.

Critics say the execution method is tantamount to human experimentation, making reference to the lack of trials, testing and evidence. They add that no one knows what the effect will be on the individual and how much they might suffer.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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