Oklahoma is finally getting a gas chamber!
11:49 AM EST on February 11, 2015
Here's some great news for fans of good old-fashioned state-sanctioned executions.
Yesterday, the AP reported that our pro-life Oklahoma legislature will consider making the gas chamber the state's official backup execution device. It will replace the current alternative, which is forcing death row inmates to eat the Oklahoma state meal in one sitting.
The change in backup execution plans is needed. Not only will it provide a great sponsorship opportunity for Devon Energy, but there's a chance the Supreme Court may rule that our state's preferred method of killing people – botched, lethal-after-45-minutes injections – is unconstitutional because they put inmates through unnecessary pain and torture before they end up in a halfway house in heaven.
The Oklahoma state legislature will consider two bills this week that would allow the state to use gas chambers in executions when lethal injection chemicals are unavailable.Using nitrogen gas is “a lot more practical” than lethal injection, Republican Rep. Mike Christian told the Associated Press Tuesday. “You wouldn’t need a medical doctor to do it.”The bills’ introduction comes less than three weeks after the Supreme Court announced it would consider a challenge to the constitutionality of using midazolam, a drug used by Oklahoma and multiple other states, in executions by lethal injection. The case could make the state’s current death penalty protocol unlawful.Lawyers arguing on behalf of death row inmates in Oklahoma claim that midazolam, a drug in the same family as Xanax and Valium, does not sufficiently sedate the inmate to prevent cruel and unusual punishment. They further allege that the drug was responsible for the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April 2014, which the state of Oklahoma maintains was the result of a misplaced IV.
Unlike people who comment on the KFOR Facebook page, I'm not a huge fan of the death penalty, but I do cautiously support it and think it's an appropriate form of punishment in certain cases (e.g. we're 100% sure the suspect did it, the crime is heinous, etc.). The only catch is if we're going to execute people in this state, we should be good hypocrites and make sure it's as civilized a process as possible. The gas chamber solves that problem, right?
Well, maybe not. From the gas chamber page on Wikipedia...
At the September 2, 1983, execution of Jimmy Lee Gray in Mississippi, officials cleared the viewing room after eight minutes while Gray was still alive and gasping for air. The decision to clear the room while he was still alive was criticized by his attorney. David Bruck, an attorney specializing in death penalty cases, said, "Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber while reporters counted his moans."During the April 6, 1992, execution of Donald Harding in Arizona, it took 11 minutes for death to occur. The prison warden stated that he would quit if required to conduct another gas chamber execution. Following Harding's execution, Arizona voted that all persons condemned after November 1992 would be executed by lethal injection. I think the death penalty is an appropriate form of punishment for people who we know without any possible doubt are guilty of the most heinous crimes. Granted, today's application of the death penalty doesn't really fit those high ideals.
Okay, so maybe the gas chamber isn't the best back-up plan. Perhaps we should turn back the clock even farther and dust off the firing squad, hangman's noose, electric chair or heavy stones. Actually, stoning wouldn't fly because the legislature would associate it with Sharia Law, but the other ones would work. They'd be popular with inmates, too. Would you rather die a quick messy death or slowly suffocate on toxic gas? Unless that toxic gas is nitrous oxide, I'm choosing quick and messy.
On the topic of humane ways to leave the earth, the Ada Evening News brought a little levity to the whole situation last night.
Hehe. They called it a "Gay Chamber." Isn't that Sally Kern's code word for Angles? I wonder how that works as an execution method. Do they blow glitter on you to death? Is the inmate bombarded with a toxic mix of radioactive rainbows? Whatever it is, I bet the gay chamber is clean and nicely decorated.
Before you say "Patrick, that's a typo. They obviously meant gas chamber!" consider these two things.
1) The "Y" and "S" keys are like five letters apart on the keyboard. Freudian slip? Maybe. Typo? I'm not so sure.
2) We live in Oklahoma. If any state is going to choose a Gay Chamber as a method for execution, it's us.
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