An inmate was executed by nitrogen gas in the US state of Alabama on Thursday. The man’s name is Kenneth Eugene Smith. It took about 22 minutes for Kenneth’s death to be confirmed after the penalty proceedings began. The execution of the accused has been criticized for taking so long.
But the case of execution by gas is not new in America. Earlier, those concerned had to face the terrible experience of being executed by gas. Therefore, there was already criticism about the execution of the death penalty in this manner. Before Kenneth’s execution on January 25 this year, the last execution by gas in the country was almost 25 years ago, in 1999. The country is scheduled to execute about 600 people by gas over the next 75 years.
The first execution by gas in America took place nearly 100 years ago, in February 1924. Then in Carson, Nevada, an immigrant named G. John was executed by cyanide acid or gas.
According to a report by the US media Washington Post, Kenneth and Ji John, who is of Chinese origin, were both executed by gas, but there are procedural differences. G John was locked in a narrow gas chamber where cyanide gas was diffused. And the small stone chamber was heated with an electric heater.
It took about six minutes to confirm the death of young Ji John, convicted of murder. The people concerned did not agree to do the autopsy. Because they were afraid that the body could be poisoned.
On the other hand, in the nitrogen hypoxia method, a surgical mask is worn over the face of the convict. This particular mask covers his entire face. Then nitrogen gas is given inside the mask. He doesn’t get oxygen. Oxygen is essential for normal functioning of various organs of the body. The convict died without oxygen in his lungs.
Both gas chamber and mask systems have many limitations. Experts complain that execution by nitrogen gas is not a proven method. Moreover, it is inhumane.
Deborah W. Deno, a death penalty historian at Fordham Law School in New York, told The Washington Post that every method of execution by gas is rigged. It is the most gruesome method of execution. Because when he is taken the convict knows where he is being taken. And after applying the gas, he remains conscious for a long time.
In the US, three states currently allow the use of nitrogen gas as a method of execution. The states are Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi. In addition to execution by nitrogen gas in a surgical mask, execution by gas chamber is still carried out in the country.
During World War II, the Nazis popularized execution by gas chamber. Experts believe that the use of the death penalty has declined in America since it was popularized by Hitler. The late American journalist Scott Christianson analyzed this issue in his book ‘The Last Gasp: The Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber’.
In 1972, the US Supreme Court suspended the execution of the death penalty. It was withdrawn in 1976. Since then, only 11 people have been executed by gas in the country. During the same period, 1,402 people were executed by lethal injection. 163 people were given electric shocks. Three people were hanged. Three were executed by firing squad.