Death Penalty: US Justice System Approves New Death Penalty

Panorama Death Penalty

US justice system approves new death penalty system

An execution chamber in Atmore, Alabama

An execution chamber in Atmore, Alabama

Quelle: AP/Dave Martin

Convict Kenneth Eugene Smith was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection as early as 2022. The attempt failed. Now a new method of execution is to be used. This is the first time it has been used in the United States.

DThe US justice system has approved a planned nitrogen execution of a convicted felon in Alabama. Kenneth Eugene Smith, who was sentenced to death for the 1988 murder, lost his bid Wednesday at the U.S. Supreme Court and an appeals court to halt the execution. The 58-year-old is expected to die Friday night German time from what is known as nitrogen hypoxia. In this type of execution, nitrogen is administered through a mask – resulting in death from lack of oxygen. No such death sentence has ever been carried out in the United States.

Smith's attorneys argued that the condemned man becomes a trial candidate for a new death row and that many questions remain unanswered. However, the Appellate Court rejected the reservation. Smith was unable to prove that the use of nitrogen hypoxia as a new and innovative method constituted “cruel and unusual” punishment, the ruling said.

The convict was scheduled to be hanged from 2022

In recent days, protesters have called on Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to halt the executions. However, it is unlikely that they will succeed in their claim. Human rights experts from the United Nations and Amnesty International warn of a gruesome death. So there is no scientific evidence that inhalation of pure nitrogen does not cause severe suffering.

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Smith was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2022. However, prison staff were unable to insert the necessary cannula into his arm. After several hours strapped to the execution table he was taken back to his cell.

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Smith was sentenced to death in 1996 for a contract killing eight years earlier.

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