Alabama executes a man with nitrogen – level 3

30-01-2024 07:00

Alabama executed Kenneth Smith, a death row inmate, using nitrogen gas, an untested method challenged by his lawyers as cruel and unusual punishment.

Smith’s death, intended to be humane, took 22 minutes, during which he appeared to struggle violently. Eyewitnesses described Smith writhing, convulsing, and gasping for air. The White House expressed deep concern over the execution, questioning its consistency with American values. Smith’s lawyers argued that the untried procedure violated constitutional protections against cruelty, especially since Smith had survived a previous failed execution attempt. The new method involved a respirator mask and pure nitrogen, causing fatal oxygen deprivation.

Despite international criticism and opposition from UN experts, Alabama proceeded with the execution, raising concerns about the potential adoption of nitrogen hypoxia in other states.

Difficult words: death row inmate (a prisoner who has been sentenced to death), convulse (to experience involuntary muscle contractions), nitrogen hypoxia (a method that causes fatal oxygen deprivation).

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What are the potential implications of Alabama's use of nitrogen gas for executing death row inmates in other states, considering the concerns raised by Smith's lawyers and the White House?


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