UPDATE: Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1879, which allows officials to perform executions using nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional.
Under current Oklahoma law, if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional, the state can revert to the electric chair as a second alternative and firing squad as the third alternative.
However, the bill makes nitrogen hypoxia the second alternative, electric chair as the third alternative and firing squad as the final alternative.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State lawmakers have unveiled a plan that they say would make executions more efficient and more humane.
However, it’s an idea that has never been used.
After the execution of Clayton Lockett, Oklahoma was thrust into the national spotlight and the search began for alternative options.
On Thursday, a bill was approved in both houses and sent to the governor’s desk that would allow the use of “nitrogen hypoxia” if the Supreme Court rules that lethal injection is unconstitutional.
“The person will become unconscious within eight to 10 seconds and death a few minutes later. In other words, a humane, quick and painless death,” said Rep. Mike Christian.
The idea is experimental and has never been used before for a state execution.
Lawmakers say extensive research has been done on the proposed method.
“The first time is always the first time, whether it’s firing squad or guillotine. We have come up with a fool-proof way for a humane execution,” said Rep. Mike Christian.
Senate Joint Resolution 31 is a proposed constitutional amendment that states methods of execution can be changed by state lawmakers.
“That it’s not cruel and unusual punishment and the legislature has the authority to alter methods as we see necessary as the people elect us,” said Sen. Anthony Sykes.
Currently, 36 other states have this provision in their state constitutions.