Alabama Executes Death Row Inmate with New Method of Execution

Alabama executed death row inmate Kenneth Smith using nitrogen gas as a new method of execution. Experts have expressed concerns about the potential pain and torture caused by this method.


Alabama Executes Death Row Inmate with New Method

On Thursday night, Alabama carried out the execution of Kenneth Smith, a death row inmate. This execution marked the first use of nitrogen gas as a method of execution in the United States, which experts have warned could cause excessive pain or torture.

Smith had previously survived the state's attempt to execute him by lethal injection in 2022. Despite his last-minute appeal to halt the execution, the US Supreme Court ultimately denied the request.

Smith's time of death was announced as 8:25 p.m. local time. Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm stated that the nitrogen gas was running for approximately 15 minutes.

Witnesses Report Shaking and Agonizing Movement

Witnesses from the media reported that Smith made a lengthy statement before his death and appeared conscious for several minutes into the execution. He shook and writhed on the gurney for two minutes and exhibited deep breathing before his breath eventually slowed and stopped.

Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm attributed the shaking and agonal breathing to the side effects of nitrogen hypoxia. Smith's spiritual adviser, on the other hand, described the death as the most horrible thing he had ever seen.

The sons of Smith's victim expressed that the execution provided justice for their mother and forgave Smith for his actions 35 years ago.

Concerns Surrounding the Method of Execution

The use of nitrogen gas as a method of execution raises concerns due to its novelty and the secrecy surrounding the state's protocol. Multiple experts have expressed skepticism about the painlessness of this method.

Only three states, including Alabama, have approved the use of nitrogen for executions. However, no other state has implemented this method, and Alabama is the only state with a published protocol.

Some argue that Smith's life should have been spared due to the failed attempt at executing him previously and the state's questionable competency in carrying out executions.