Alabama to Attempt First Execution Using Nitrogen Gas
Alabama plans to execute Kenneth Eugene Smith using nitrogen hypoxia, a new and controversial execution method. Critics argue that the method is cruel and experimental, while the state claims it will be humane. Smith's attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution, citing constitutional concerns.
Controversial Execution Method Scheduled for Thursday
Alabama is set to carry out its first execution using nitrogen gas on Thursday night, unless it is blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. This new method of execution has never been used before and has been met with criticism from opponents of the death penalty. The state argues that it will be a humane form of execution, but critics argue that it is cruel and experimental.
The inmate scheduled for execution is Kenneth Eugene Smith, a convicted killer whose previous attempted lethal injection in 2022 was called off due to difficulty connecting an IV line. Smith's attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to review the new method, claiming that it violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Concerns Raised about the New Execution Method
Critics of Alabama's plan argue that there has been little research on death by nitrogen hypoxia. They believe that the state should have conducted more thorough research and established procedures to minimize the potential pain and suffering of the condemned person. The use of a new and untested execution method raises concerns about the potential for a prolonged and painful death.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has stated that nitrogen hypoxia is not an acceptable euthanasia method for most mammals due to the distressing nature of the anoxic environment. Experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council have cautioned that the use of this method could violate the prohibition on torture.
The Victim's Family and State's Position
The victim in this case, Elizabeth Sennett, was murdered in 1988 as part of a murder-for-hire plot. Smith was one of two men convicted in her slaying, and his accomplice was executed in 2010. Sennett's son, Charles Sennett Jr., supports the execution and believes that Smith should pay for his crimes.
The Alabama Attorney General, Steve Marshall, is confident that the execution will proceed. He argues that the courts have already rejected Smith's claims and that justice will be served. The state plans to use a respirator mask and administer pure nitrogen gas to cause death by lack of oxygen.