Ohio May Consider Adopting Nitrogen Gas Execution Method, Following Alabama’s Lead

Wagswoofs – Ohio politicians are considering the possibility of breaking the state’s unofficial moratorium on the death penalty by exploring the option of using nitrogen gas, following in the footsteps of Alabama.

Ohio has refrained from carrying out any executions since 2018. Republican Governor Mike DeWine made the decision in 2020 to no longer consider lethal injection as a viable option. This decision was prompted by a federal judge’s ruling, which highlighted concerns that the current protocol could subject inmates to “severe pain and needless suffering.”

Republican state Attorney General Dave Yost has announced that he will be holding a news conference on Tuesday to discuss the future of Ohio’s capital punishment system. Yost has shown his approval for the use of the nitrogen gas method, which was recently used for the first time in Alabama. This method involves administering nitrogen gas through a face mask to deprive the convicted individual of oxygen, and it was successfully used to execute Kenneth Eugene Smith, a 58-year-old convicted murderer.

State officials in Alabama defended the process, stating it was both humane and effective. However, critics vehemently argued that it was cruel and experimental.

According to a recent statement made by Yost, nitrogen could potentially provide a solution to the ongoing issue of drug availability for lethal injections. Yost suggests that nitrogen, which is both abundant and easily produced, could be used as an alternative method. He also highlights the fact that death row inmates are more likely to die from natural causes than from the execution of their sentence.

Republican state representatives Brian Stewart and Phil Plummer, along with Lou Tobin, the executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, were scheduled to join Yost at his news conference on Tuesday. State representative Josh Williams from Toledo revealed that the Republican lawmakers are working on legislation that would permit the use of nitrogen gas as an alternative when lethal injection drugs are not accessible.

Finding the chemicals for lethal injection has been a challenge for the state.

Lawmakers from both political parties have been continuously advocating for the abolition of the state’s death penalty for many years. This session also witnessed the introduction of a new measure aimed at eliminating capital punishment.

DeWine, who played a role in crafting Ohio’s current law established in 1981, has refrained from fully endorsing this particular option.

In recent times, the governor has started to question the efficacy of the death penalty due to the significant delays that occur between the commission of a crime and the execution of punishment. During a year-end interview with The Associated Press last month, he expressed his hesitance in announcing whether he would lend his support to a complete repeal.

“I made it clear a few years ago that executions cannot be carried out in the state of Ohio under the current law,” he stated. “Unfortunately, there has been no progress in the state Legislature in terms of finding an alternative method of execution.” He added that if there was sufficient support for continuing the practice, coming up with a different approach would have been the logical course of action.

According to the latest state report, Ohio currently has 118 men and only one woman awaiting execution on death row.

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