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Nitrogen Gas

A tank filled with liquid nitrogen is seen outside of an Oklahoma City business that sells nitrogen for various commercial uses.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The condemned man enters the room where he will draw his last breath.

He will be restrained in some way, perhaps strapped to the T-shaped platform where other offenders have been executed by injection.

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill Friday expanding the options for future executions. The new procedure uses an inert gas and will replace lethal injections should the Supreme Court of the United States rule the state’s current protocol unconstitutional.  

The process replaces an inmate’s available oxygen with nitrogen through a mask or bag placed over the face.

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The Oklahoma Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday that adds a new execution protocol to the state’s list of approved methods. The Sooner State could be the first in the nation to use nitrogen hypoxia if the governor signs off. 

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Legislation that authorizes the use of nitrogen gas to execute Oklahoma death row inmates has been approved by a state Senate committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 8-0 Tuesday for the House-passed measure and sent it to the full Senate for a vote.

Under the bill, lethal injection would remain the primary method of execution, but nitrogen gas would be an alternative if lethal injection is declared unconstitutional or if the drugs are unavailable.

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

After Oklahoma’s troubled execution last year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review the state’s lethal injection procedures and postpone all scheduled executions

Amid the legal scrutiny and difficulty in obtaining drugs for future lethal injections, some state lawmakers are discussing a new, completely experimental method of execution.

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.

oksenate.gov

Oklahoma would be the first state to use nitrogen gas to execute inmates under a bill that has unanimously cleared a Senate committee.

With no debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-0 Tuesday to authorize "nitrogen hypoxia," which depletes oxygen supply in the blood to cause death.

The bill's author, Moore Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes, says it's likely the bill will be amended before the session is over.

Three lethal injections remain on hold in Oklahoma while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether Oklahoma's three-drug method is constitutional.