OKLAHOMA CITY - Late Tuesday afternoon the Oklahoma House Committee passed a measure that would make Oklahoma the first state to use nitrogen gas to kill death row inmates.
Just hours before a similar bill was passed by the Senate.
This comes as Oklahoma’s current execution procedures are under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Rep. Mike Christian says last year’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett motivated him to look for a more humane way to execute inmates.<
"In the 21st century I think we can do a lot better as a government to come up with a more innovative way.
If we are going to have the death penalty and capital punishment in America,” Rep. Christian said.
Under his bill, if lethal injection is deemed unconstitutional then death by nitrogen gas would become the primary method and would be distributed through a mask or hood.
"70 percent of what we breathe is nitrogen. It's what we breathe everyday so you just deplete the oxygen which is 21 percent,” Rep. Christian said. “Within two seconds the inmate would lose consciousness and within three to four minutes they would be dead.”
Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union argues there is no humane way to kill someone and a bigger question needs to be discussed.
"These types of bills really miss the point. They miss the opportunity for Oklahoma to have a much broader and deeper conversation about if we should be in the business of executing people at all,” Kiesel said.
In a documentary by BBC Michael Portillo explores different methods of execution and is exposed to non-lethal gas. After he is out of a gas-filled tent he describes the pain he feels, but Rep. Christian says with nitrogen gas inmates would
not feel that kind of pain.
"There is no documentation whatsoever of any pain being involved in this method.”