Louisiana reintroduces the electric chair, adds nitrogen hypoxia to execution methods

Earlier this month, Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed into law the state's plans to execute inmates using electrocution and nitrogen hypoxia. Lethal injection is still available, but sourcing the chemicals used is difficult. Amid a variety of other factors, the production of chemicals used to kill human beings is illegal in the countries that the US sources from.

Nitrogen hypoxia is not a medical term, said Dr. Joel Zivot, an associate professor of anesthesiology at Emory School of Medicine and an expert on physician participation in lethal injection.

"It's asphyxiation," said Zivot. "It's the gas chamber strapped to your face."

Emily Woodruff, Nola.com

Alabama is the only state to execute a prisoner with nitrogen and only resorted to the method because the execution team couldn't find the vein. The Alabama attorney general stated that nitrogen hypoxia is "the most painless and humane method of execution known to man," but it took a full 22 minutes of violent writhing and gasping for Kenneth Smith, Alabama's nitrogen hypoxia test subject, to die.

Veterinarians don't put down animals this way because it's inhumane. So why is the US so eager to execute? Executions seem to benefit no one, not the victim's families, not the state's budget, not the executioner, guards, warden, fellow inmates. And now, Louisiana is insisting on expanding its execution capabilities.