Arizona to use Zyklon B to kill prisoners

We have more humane methods, and if we don’t use them, then we are doing so because we are choosing to use less humane methods. The only reason that we would choose to use less humane methods is because we want them to suffer.

By your logic, what would be wrong with drawing and quartering them, or boiling them alive in oil? You seen Brave Heart of Passion of the Christ? What’s wrong with vivisection or crucifiction? Those were methods that were used before anyone even heard of a Nazi.

I’m not sure how you haven’t, as that’s been discussed quite a bit in this thread.

The weight doesn’t really make a difference in this instance. The idea would be to flush out the oxygen with nitrogen.

A leak alone is enough to kill people, deliberately setting it up would be much easier.

I don’t think that it is possible to hold your breath until you die. If you have a whole lot of willpower, you may be able to hold your breath until you pass out, but then you resume breathing normally.

But it would still be death by hypoxia, a lack of oxygen. Nitrogen isn’t a poison, fortunately, as it makes up the bulk of the air we breathe.

To answer one of the earlier questions above: AIUI, the reason we don’t use the much more humane nitrogen for the gas chamber, and instead use cyanide, is because death-penalty opponents have lobbied things into an ironic Catch-22 situation: Nitrogen would be much more humane, but there is no precedent because it’s never been used before in America for execution, so they argue that “we shouldn’t use a new form of execution that has no precedent” - thus guaranteeing that the more humane alternative can never be used. Thus, death penalty opponents are actually ensuring that death will be more painful, not less.

By definition, anything that’s going to be done for the first time has never been done before up to that point.

Really weird that someone could observe the past 5 years of US history and ask this question in seriousness.

So as not to bury the lede: the cruelty is the point, always has been, the death penalty in the US has been an eternal tug-of-war with people who want it to be as bloodthirsty as possible.

It’s not that hard to make your own liquid nitrogen at home.

You could ask these guys, except they’re not alive anymore.

This is simply not true.

They can’t use nitrogen as they have not used it in the past, as Velocity said.

Incorrect. No such restriction exists.

Velocity was suggesting that some people made arguments to that effect, but did not provide a cite, and I expect we won’t be getting a cite because no such cite exists.

As I understand it, there have been those who have made such an argument. However, such an argument has not, so far as I can see, held up in any court or legal proceeding.

Do you have a cite that shows death penalty opponents guaranteeing that nitrogen can never be used?

You have what Velocity said on one hand.

And you have what the legislature, attorney general, the courts, and even public defenders of death row inmates, of at least three states have said on the other.

Courts? I do not see any court rulings there that said Nitrogen is OK. I see many, many issues however-
There is a limited body of scientific research on the use of nitrogen to kill humans. Most information on the subject comes from industrial accidents, suicides, and euthanasia on small animals.

Though the suicides and accidental deaths involving nitrogen are sometimes described as peaceful, some doctors say the conditions present in an execution are very different.

“This theoretical situation would be difficult to create in real life,” Dr. John Ard, a neuroanesthesiologist and professor at New York University, wrote in an email. “The prisoner would be in a state of panic. Even if the system was perfect, the prisoner could hold out for minutes by breath holding.”… Apart from obtaining the device, the state would also need to procure nitrogen gas. In February, Elliott told The Appeal that the department had a “reliable supply” of the gas, but this month he said that although it has maintained that supply, it does not have “a specific supplier for executions via hypoxia.”

Oklahoma’s contracted gas supplier, Airgas USA, which sells industrial, medical, and specialty gases to the state at a discount, told The Appeal that it would not supply the state with gas for executions.

In all the cases, Nitrogen was considered if Lethal injection was ruled out by SCOTUS- but it was not ruled out.

Do you have a cite for this ruling?

There was a ruling that said that a death row inmate could not choose this method of execution, but nothing saying that a state can’t choose to use it.

Sweet! I wonder what the equipment costs.

The easiest method would probably be to put a mask over their nose/mouth and give them nothing to breathe but N2.

Depends on how much you want to make it and how quickly you need it. But for home hobbyist uses, it’s only a couple few thousand. Cheap for a state.

People who commit suicide by this method usually put a bag over their head and fill it with nitrogen.

But flooding the room with it wouldn’t be that much more difficult. There is a small risk that others are exposed if there is a leak, but unlike poison, you need nearly 100% nitrogen before it is really dangerous.

And treatment is as simple as beginning them back to outside air, maybe with a bit of supplemental oxygen.

I imagine many opponents think that the death penalty is barbarous, and we avoid facing that barbarism by making it neat and tidy. By forcing the state to use more barbarous methods, they show the barbarism for what it is.

I’m certainly opposed to the DP in the US, because of the way it is used in our justice system. I would probably still be opposed to it, but the reality in the US makes it clearly wrong, in my opinion.

On the subject of obtaining nitrogen, how is the state able to obtain the elements of the poison gas? And, is that a painful death or not?

I don’t know how it would be obtained but it’s one of the easiest things in the world to obtain, since it makes up 70 percent of air. More chemically-minded Dopers can answer that one.

As for painful, none of us here have experience, but it’s quite possibly the most painless death inventable. If there’s a less painful method, I have yet to hear one.

I think all this focus on “is it painless or not?” often misses two points: First, that the Constitution merely bans “cruel and unusual” punishment but it doesn’t mean “totally pain-free,” which is a stretch of that wording. Secondly, that even the most painless physical execution still means a great deal of psychological agony and suspense as the inmate waits for the day of death to get nearer. No painless execution method will do away with the psychological torment.

I was asking about the poison gas death, not the nitrogen one. Sorry that wasn’t clear in my post.

All these objections would seem to apply to poisonous gasses, too. And nitrogen is pretty easy to come by, even if the major vendors don’t want to be associated with executions.

Yeah…why can’t the state make their own N2?

I can understand not wanting to attempt to make, handle, and store HCN, which would be deadly if it leaks etc. IIRC I read something once that the gas chamber never caught on much because everybody realized that if it leaked, witnesses to the execution could die. And I think they put some tall exhaust stacks for it outside. If the wind is blowing…?

Right. I wonder if people who are NOT facing the death penalty try to apply this logic. “Your honor, when I think of the 40 year prison sentence you just gave me, I feel like I’m about to fall into a really deep depression that would just torment me. How about 10 instead?”

The molecular weight difference is not significant. It’s coming out of a cryogenic tank, as it vaporizes the gas is still extremely cold, it tends to sink and concentrate low down. In a confined space, it can take a while before it mixes fully with the warmer air above.

Being odorless, colorless, tasteless, and nonirritating, nitrogen has no warning properties. Humans possess no senses that can detect the presence of nitrogen. Although nitrogen is nontoxic and inert, it can act as a simple asphyxiant by displacing oxygen in air to levels below that required to support life. Inhalation of nitrogen in excessive amounts can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and death. Death may result from errors in judgment, confusion, or loss of consciousness that prevents self-rescue. At low oxygen concentration, unconsciousness and death may occur in seconds and without warning.