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Prisons Director Says Nitrogen Gas Executions Are Untried

Robert Patton, Director, Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The head of Oklahoma's prison system says little is known about a proposed new method of nitrogen gas execution, but that he stands ready to carry out executions however the state determines they should be done.

Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton was asked about the idea Thursday after legislative panels voted this week to make "nitrogen hypoxia" the state's second execution option after lethal injection. Proponents say the method is painless and easy to perform.

The House and Senate authors of the bills say they were prompted by a botched execution last spring and a resulting legal challenge that led the U.S. Supreme Court to halt further lethal injections in Oklahoma while it reviews whether the state's new three-drug method is constitutional.

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