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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many r…

Alabama Governor signs bill to allow execution by nitrogen hypoxia

Nitrogen gas
Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law a bill to allow Alabama to carry out executions by nitrogen hypoxia, an alternative to lethal injection.

The governor signed the bill today, Ivey Press Secretary Daniel Sparkman said.

Condemned inmates could choose to die by nitrogen hypoxia instead of lethal injection. 

Or, if lethal injection was ruled unconstitutional or became otherwise unavailable, nitrogen hypoxia would become the state's method.

The law also still allows inmates to choose execution by electrocution, although none have done so since the state adopted lethal injection. 

The nitrogen hypoxia bill was sponsored by Rep. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. 

The House of Representatives passed it by a vote of 75-23 on Tuesday. It passed the Senate 29-0 in February.

Source: al.com, Mike Cason, March 22, 2018


Alabama 3rd state to allow execution by nitrogen gas


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama will become the third state to authorize the untested use of nitrogen gas to execute prisoners, under legislation signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kay Ivey.

As lethal injection drugs become difficult to obtain, states have begun looking at alternative ideas for carrying out death sentences. While lethal injection would remain the state’s primary execution method, the new law would allow the state to asphyxiate condemned inmates with nitrogen gas if lethal injection drugs are unavailable or lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional.

Lawmakers who supported the change suggested that it would be more humane.

“It provides another option. I believe it is more humane option,” said Sen. Trip Pittman, a south Alabama Republican who sponsored the bill. Pittman likened the procedure to the way aircraft passengers pass out when a plane depressurizes.

Welcome to AlabamaThe state would have to develop procedures for the new execution method. Pittman said that it might involve “some type of mask” over the inmate’s face that gradually replaces oxygen with nitrogen.

“The process is completely experimental,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center — a group that compiles death penalty statistics.

The center says no state has carried out an execution by nitrogen gas. Two other states — Oklahoma and Mississippi — have voted to authorize execution by nitrogen gas as a backup method of execution, according to the center.

Oklahoma announced last week that it will begin using nitrogen for executions, when the state resumes death sentences, because of difficulty obtaining lethal injection drugs.

However, neither Oklahoma nor Alabama will likely carry out executions with nitrogen in the immediate future, Dunham said. Before implementation, the states will have to develop protocols and get them approved by the courts amid almost certain legal challenges.

States face an increasing dilemma if they want to carry put executions, Dunham said. With pharmaceutical companies becoming hesitant to sell drugs for use in executions, states must look for alternate channels to obtain them or alternate methods of execution.

Utah authorized execution by firing squad. Tennessee has said the electric chair will be used when lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

Alabama previously carried out death sentences with an electric chair nicknamed “Yellow Mama” because it was painted with yellow highway striping paint. While inmates can still choose the electric chair, Alabama made lethal injection the primary method amid concerns that electrocution might one day be ruled unconstitutional and beliefs that lethal injection would be more humane.

Opponents of the Alabama legislation questioned how lawmakers could assert nitrogen would be painless since the method hasn’t been tried.

“We had Yellow Mama. Now, we are going to bring back the gas chamber,” Rep. Thomas Jackson, a Democrat from Thomasville, said during debate Tuesday.

Source: The Associated Press, March 22, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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