Biden administration, ‘appalled’ by execution of inmate with nitrogen in Alabama

The White House is “appalled” after Thursday evening’s execution of Alabama inmate Eugene Smith with nitrogen gas, a method never tried before.

“We are deeply concerned by what we have heard about Smith’s death,” Joe Biden administration spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said at a news conference.

“The president is deeply concerned about the manner in which the death penalty is being carried out and whether it is consistent with our values ​​as a nation,” he added.

After becoming president in 2021, Biden issued an order banning the federal government from carrying out executions. This measure has no effects at the state level.

Alabama, in the southern United States, executed Smith last night, asphyxiating him with nitrogen gas.

Smith, sentenced to death for the murder of a tenant woman in 1988, was pronounced dead at 8:25 p.m. local time after inhaling nitrogen gas through a mask and running out of oxygen.

His last words, while wearing the mask, were: “Tonight Alabama lets humanity take a step back. Thank you for your support. I love you all.”

Journalists who were eyewitnesses to the execution reported that after the gas began to flow, Smith writhed for several minutes and then breathed heavily for several more minutes.

The United States Supreme Court, minutes before the execution, rejected the final appeal filed by the prisoner’s defense on Thursday by a vote of 6 to 3, giving the green light for the start of proceedings.

Alabama decided to try nitrogen gas asphyxiation because of the problems that states that still use the death penalty to obtain lethal drugs have faced in recent years with pharmaceutical companies’ refusal to allow them to be used for this purpose.

Other states eagerly awaited the execution in Alabama to also introduce the nitrogen asphyxiation method. Oklahoma and Mississippi have already approved the method, but have not yet developed a protocol for its use or built any facilities.

Since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 1,583 prisoners have been executed in the United States, 73 of them in Alabama.

Source: El heraldo