The man, tied with belts, was brought into the execution room on a gurney, after which a breathing mask was put on his face. Two minutes after the Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall gave the order to begin the execution, gas began to flow into the mask. According to reporters, Smith began to writhe and convulse. A couple more minutes later he went limp and was just breathing heavily, gasping for breath.
After seven minutes, the corrections officer leaned over the inmate and examined his face before returning to his post. The executed man stopped breathing after another seven minutes. A total of 19 minutes passed from the beginning of the execution to the announcement of death.
A new type of execution has been compared to torture
Later White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reportedthat the US President Joe Biden supports a moratorium on federal executions. According to her, the current administration is alarmed by reports of the execution of Kenneth Smith, who was killed in a new way. “The President was deeply concerned about the way the death penalty was carried out,” she said.
High Commissioner UN Human Rights Volker Türk statedthat execution with nitrogen in the USA can be equated to torture. He pointed out that the new and untested method of nitrogen gas asphyxiation could amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Previous supporters of nitrogen execution talkedthat such execution is painless. According to the original plan, since more than three-quarters of the Earth’s atmosphere consists of this gas, the condemned person will not notice how the oxygen necessary to support life will disappear from the respiratory mixture.
It will just put them to sleep. It’s humane, quick and painless
Reverend Jeff Hood, who was present at the execution, shared with reporters his impression of what he saw. He said he witnessed five executions by lethal injection in a year and called it “a far superior method of killing.” “We didn’t see Smith die in a matter of seconds. We saw how he fought for his life for long minutes,” the priest said.
Alabama has become the third state to allow the use of nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method. The authorities of Oklahoma and Mississippi approved the execution of the death sentence in this way, but it had not previously been used there.
The death penalty in the United States is a legal punishment in 27 states. Besides nitrogen, the other legal forms of execution in the United States are hanging, firing squad, electric chair, gas chamber and lethal injection.
Kenneth Smith survived execution by lethal injection
Kenneth Smith was scheduled to be executed in November 2022. He survived the lethal injection procedure – prison staff failed to install two needles with a lethal cocktail into his veins in the allotted time. The prisoner later complained that he had been literally “punctured with needles” for an hour. In addition to Smith, two other people have had similar experiences over the past few years.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, lethal injection is the worst method of execution. The main problem with this is considered to be the ban on medical drug manufacturers using their products for execution. In addition, prison workers often do not have the necessary qualifications and cannot get a needle into the vein of a sentenced person.
Hours before Smith’s execution, he took his last meal. ordered get yourself a steak, hash browns and eggs. He didn’t finish his dinner completely.