OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter and Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh today announced inert gas inhalation will be the state’s primary method of execution once a protocol is developed and finalized.
The new method’s adoption comes as officials with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) cannot acquire the proper drugs required to perform executions by lethal injection.
According to the state law, if lethal injection is held unconstitutional or is unavailable, an execution shall be carried out by nitrogen hypoxia.
Attorney General Hunter said the new procedure is the best way for the state to move forward with executions and ensure justice is met for victims of heinous crimes.
“Executions are the most profound application of state power,” Attorney General Hunter said. “I believe in justice for victims and their families, and in capital punishment as appropriate for dealing with those whose commit these crimes. Using an inert gas will be effective, simple to administer, easy to obtain and requires no complex medical procedures.
“The people of Oklahoma spoke clearly when an overwhelming majority of the electorate voted to amend the constitution and guarantee the state’s power to impose capital punishment two years ago. As state leaders, it is our duty to utilize an effective and humane manner that satisfies both the constitution and the court system.”
Corrections Director Allbaugh said his agency is currently studying inert gas inhalation and is working to develop a protocol and procedure to carry out future executions.
“The victims of death row inmates have waited long enough for justice,” Corrections Director Allbaugh said. “Trying to find alternative compounds or someone with prescribing authority willing to provide us with the drugs is becoming exceedingly difficult, and we will not attempt to obtain the drugs illegally.”
According to the United States Air Force Flight Surgeon’s Guide, pilots who are exposed to high altitude tests breathe excessive amounts of inert gas experience fatigue, dizziness, headache, loss of breath and euphoria. Occasionally, there are no sensations leading up to the loss of conscious.
Other studies show, if oxygen does not displace the inert gas within just a few minutes, death occurs.
Updates on the progress of the protocol will be made as they are available.