Alabama Death Row Inmate Executed by Nitrogen Gas: A Controversial Milestone in US History
Kenneth Eugene Smith, a death row inmate in Alabama, has made history as the first person in the United States to be executed by nitrogen gas. Smith’s execution took place on Thursday at 8.25pm CT at the William C Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, and was witnessed by multiple individuals, including his religious adviser.
Eyewitnesses reported a distressing scene as Smith appeared conscious and struggled for his life for approximately 22 minutes. This revelation has sparked outrage among human rights activists, who argue that the use of nitrogen gas as an execution method could lead to prolonged suffering for the condemned individuals. The White House has joined the chorus of condemnation, describing the execution as troubling.
Despite witnesses’ accounts, Alabama authorities insist that the execution went according to plan and was carried out successfully. This discrepancy has raised concerns about transparency and credibility surrounding the use of nitrogen gas in capital punishment.
The execution received further attention when the US Supreme Court denied a final attempt to stay the execution. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her dissenting opinion, referred to Smith as a “guinea pig” for the untested method of execution. This remark highlights the ongoing debate over the ethics and constitutionality of various execution methods.
In response to the controversy, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall revealed that 43 more death row inmates have chosen nitrogen hypoxia as their preferred method of execution. Marshall maintains that Smith’s execution serves as evidence of the method’s effectiveness. However, critics argue that the use of untested methods raises serious ethical questions and potentially violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
As the debate around capital punishment continues, this landmark execution raises profound concerns regarding the use of nitrogen gas as an execution method in the United States. Advocates and opponents will closely monitor the aftermath and implications of Smith’s execution, as it further fuels the already heated discussions surrounding the death penalty.
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