Yesterday, the State of Alabama executed Kenneth Smith via nitrogen hypoxia. During the execution, Mr. Smith suffered and ADOC tortured him to death.
Below is a statement from Alison Mollman, ACLU of Alabama’s Interim Legal Director:
“This execution is tragic for our community, for our state, and for our country. The state of Alabama executed Kenneth Smith using nitrogen hypoxia by forcing him to inhale pure nitrogen through a mask until he suffocated. This untested, unproven method of execution is state-sponsored torture. We have learned the execution process caused Mr. Smith to suffer excruciating pain for an extended period. This is cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of the Constitution.
The first execution attempt of Mr. Smith failed when after prodding Mr. Smith’s hands, arms, and collarbone for an hour, ADOC employees were unable to find a suitable vein for lethal injection. Mr. Smith should not have been executed. He should have never been on death row. In 1996, a jury of his peers voted 11-1 for life in prison without parole for his role in a 1988 killing. However, the sentencing judge imposed the death penalty anyway. If Mr. Smith were tried today, that could not happen, as Alabama no longer permits a judge to override a jury’s decision to sentence someone to life without parole.”
The State of Alabama knowingly put civilians and ADOC staff in danger by using a method of execution involving nitrogen, a colorless, odorless gas. Storing nitrogen in Alabama prisons is a ticking time bomb – the question is not if, but when.