A Louisiana lawmaker is proposing a bill that would allow nitrogen gas to be used in executions when lethal injection is not possible, making it the latest state to consider implementing the practice. Alabama killed a man last month in a first-of-its-kind method.
Rep. Nicholas Muscarello, the Republican who chairs the House Civil Rights and Procedures Committee, said Friday that he drafted the bill. draft law Act primarily as a way to ensure that the identities of individuals and companies assisting in the execution of the death penalty in the state remain confidential. In recent years, manufacturers and suppliers known to use their drugs in lethal injections have declined to participate, making the process increasingly difficult in states like Louisiana.
Muscarello said he still believes lethal injection can be used most of the time, but the state should have other options.
“The state of Louisiana will do everything in its power to make sure this process is done in an efficient and humane manner, and we will cut no corners to make sure we do it the right way,” he said. “But at the end of the day, with the verdicts that have been reached, we have made a commitment to the families of the victims and we have to move forward.”
He added that he would work with the governor’s office to help design the nitrogen hypoxia protocol “to make sure it’s right and across the board.”
The bill, which was previously submitted, is expected to be debated on Thursday special legislative session Starting Feb. 19, it focuses on the state’s criminal justice system. If passed, it would give the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections the “discretion” to choose a lethal injection, electrocution or nitrogen hypoxia process in which a person only breathes. dies from lack of nitrogen and oxygen.
Louisiana has about 60 people on death row, but the state has not executed anyone since 2010, the last time it used lethal injection. The method has stalled due to shortages of necessary drugs and lawsuits challenging the state’s lethal injection protocol.
Electrocution was the only method of execution in the 1980s, but it was no longer viable after the introduction of the electric chair at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. He retired in 1990.
Muscarello’s bill would punish anyone who reveals the names of people, businesses and organizations involved in the execution process. Shield law in South Carolina.
According to the bill, anyone who violates the law in Louisiana “shall be imprisoned for not more than two years and fined not more than $50,000” and may also be subject to civil liability.
“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel and follow other Southern states,” Muscarello said.
Gov. Jeff Landry’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the first Republican, who has campaigned on being tough on crime, has called for alternative methods to restart executions. While he was serving as the state’s attorney general supported by the public using death by shooting, hanging or electrocution.
“States around us are finding ways and means to execute those who are tried, convicted and sentenced to death,” Landry told reporters last week.
He added that he and the Republican-controlled state Legislature are “going to deliver on our commitment.”
“Families deserve a day of justice,” Landry said.
The governor did not mention Alabama specifically, but noted that the state carried out its first execution using nitrogen hypoxia in January. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall evaluated the result as a “textbook”. and said his state would continue to use nitrogen gas, despite concerns from human rights and religious groups around the world. According to the witnesses, the executed prisoner did not lose consciousness as expected and fell on top of the garrison.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the UN human rights office, said last month that “instead of inventing new ways of applying the death penalty, we call on all states to impose a moratorium on its use, which is a step towards its universal abolition.”
Kenneth Eugene SmithThe 58-year-old, who had been on Alabama’s death row for more than three decades for a 1988 murder-for-hire, was gagged and gassed with nitrogen gas. The execution lasted about 20 minutes.
Smith’s attorneys had sought to block the practice, arguing that using the untested method only raised concerns about cruel and unusual punishment for fear that he might choke or have a seizure by vomiting into the mask. Alabama’s nitrogen hypoxia protocol was also examined heavily edited the document has been made available to the public.
The state said in court documents that “experts agree that nitrogen hypoxia is painless because it causes unconsciousness within seconds” and death within minutes. But media witnesses at Smith’s execution said it took longer for him to pass out and die than the state suggested.
Nevertheless, Marshall offered to help other states that wanted to develop nitrogen hypoxia protocols.
King Alexander, president of the Louisiana Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said there are criminal justice practices that allow the state to regularly hold trials. the highest incarceration rate in the country it doesn’t help the economy or instill confidence in elected officials.
“Like many of my fellow Republicans, one of my primary goals for our great state is to see companies and investors build new projects that create opportunities for individuals and economic growth for all. For that to happen, Louisiana must look to the future, not the past,” Alexander said. “Some lawmakers are proposing to speed up and expand the death penalty by returning to outdated methods of gassing our citizens and the electric chair, expanding state secrets and allowing new levels of concern. We know these potential measures can only take our state backwards.”
But Louisiana is not alone. Republican lawmakers in Ohio introduced the bill last week to make nitrogen hypoxia an alternative to lethal injection and to require nitrogen execution in the absence of drugs for lethal injection. The state of Ohio has not executed an inmate since 2018, and attempts to do so have been put on hold because he couldn’t get the right medication. still, four executions in the state is planned for this year.
Two states, Mississippi and Oklahoma, have approved nitrogen hypoxia in executions, in addition to other methods, although neither has a protocol like Alabama’s.
Earlier in the year, even before Alabama implemented nitrogen executions, a Nebraska lawmaker submitted a bill making nitrogen hypoxia another option for death row inmates other than lethal injection. Like Ohio, Nebraska has been without executions since 2018.