The US rumoured to use brand new execution method on a death-row prisoner

In Alabama, the United States plan to execute a death row inmate using a new method. The technique is causing controversy.

US America execution death row method
© Matthew Ansley / Unsplash
US America execution death row method

TW: mentions of murder

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In the UK, the last people sentenced to death were executed in 1964. Convicted of murder, two men were hanged, a few years before the death penalty was abolished. While this trend may seem a thing of the past, it is still alive and well in some countries, such as the United States. Indeed, several states have retained capital punishment, and a new method of execution could be tried out in a few months' time.

The Kenneth Eugene Smith case

Kenneth Eugene Smith has been on death row for several decades. In 1996, he was sentenced to death for murdering a woman 8 years earlier. 27 years after his conviction, he could be executed using a new method (a previous attempt at execution via lethal injection has already failed).

In January, Kenneth Eugene Smith could be executed via nitrogen hypoxia. This method, already used on animals, consists of having a condemned man breathe pure nitrogen until he dies. The method is already legal in some states, but has not yet been tried on humans.

This is mainly because little is known about its effects on humans. One report, quoted by Le Temps, states that 'side effects before unconsciousness could be distressing'.

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Innovate to kill

One of the reasons the country is looking to 'experiment' with the death penalty is the shortage of products used for executions by lethal injection. According to L'Express:

Pharmaceutical companies, aware of the bad publicity, have one after the other banned the sale of these substances to prison authorities. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain them, which has had the effect of considerably slowing down the number of executions.

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This article has been translated from Gentside FR.

Sources used:

Le Temps: L’azote, la nouvelle méthode américaine pour exécuter des condamnés à mort

L'Express: Peine de mort aux Etats-Unis : le peloton d’exécution plutôt que la chaise électrique ?

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