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October 31, 2019

Rounding up some death penalty news and notes

In order to cover a number of notable death penalty stories of late, I will resort here to a round up of headlines and links.  As always, I welcome reader feedback on whether some of these pieces (or others in this arena) merit additional attention:

From the AP, "Georgia Supreme Court temporarily halts man’s execution"

From the AP, "2 more Ohio executions delayed amid lack of lethal drugs"

From The Appeal, "Using Nitrogen Gas For Executions Is Untested And Poorly Understood. Three States Plan To Do It Anyway."

From The Conversation, "The death penalty is getting more and more expensive. Is it worth it?"

From the Death Penalty Information Center, "More Than 250 Conservative Leaders Join Call to End Death Penalty"

From the New York Times, "Before First Federal Execution in Years, Family of Victims Dissents"

UPDATE: A few more:

From The Crime Report, "Feds ‘Out of Touch’ on Death Penalty, says Conservative Leader"

From Mother Jones, "Trump Loves the Death Penalty. These Conservatives Don’t."

From NET, "No Scheduled Executions, But Courts Busy With Nebraska Death Penalty Issues"

October 31, 2019 at 06:58 AM | Permalink


The article in the Appeal is unaware

Nitrogen Gas: Experiments & Accidents

Experiment and Evidence

"Preliminary (human) experiments in which the subjects over-ventilated with nitrogen (gas) for various periods showed that unconsciousness supervened if the duration of this procedure exceeded 16-17 sec. In the majority of these experiments, therefore, the period of over-ventilation with nitrogen was limited to 16 sec." (3) " . . . it was considered that the degree of hypoxia induced by over-ventilation with nitrogen for 15- 16 sec was within acceptable limits for resting subjects." (3).

The above was performed by a tube, as opposed to a chamber, with animal euthanasia. Human executions are, most likely, to be performed by a mask which, because of control, will have results somewhat quicker than those using a tube or chamber.

It appears that nearly every case of accidental death and/or unconsciousness, via nitrogen gas, is close to instantaneous (4,5), as the subjects seemed to have become unconscious so quickly, as to not be able to extricate themselves from the situation (4,5), just as described in the human experiment, above, with the exception that many of the accidental deaths and injuries are in the equivalent of chambers, not a mask, as contemplated with execution.

"You will not recognize you're in trouble in time to take action to save yourself," states CSB ( Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board) Investigation Manager Bill Hoyle" (4).

"An oxygen concentration below 19 1/2 percent is considered unsafe for workers; when the oxygen content drops to about 8 or 10 percent, John Vorderbrueggen PE, a lead investigator for CSB, "you don't have much of a chance." (4)

Oxygen concentration will be 0% within the mask, during a nitrogen gas execution.

"If pure nitrogen is being breathed, the alveolar oxygen content from the previously breathed air decreases very fast." "After a few breaths, the alveo-lar spaces become completely filled with pure nitrogen, and hence, the fatal asphyxia of the victim develop." (5)

"According to CSB, during that decade (1992-2002) there were 85 nitrogen (gas) asphyxiation incidents, resulting in 80 fatalities and 50 injuries." (4)

Confirming, again, how sudden this can occur: "Approximately 10 percent of (nitrogen gas) fatalities from the CSB data were co-workers attempting to rescue fallen colleagues in confined spaces, . . ." (4)

3) "The effect of brief profound hypoxia upon the arterial and venous oxygen tensions in man", J. ERNSTING, J. Phy8iol. (1963), 169, pp. 292-311.

4) Nitrogen: The Silent Killer, Josh Cable, EHS Today (Environment Health and Safety), Sep 20, 2006,

5) Suicidal Nitrogen Inhalation by use of Scuba Full-Face Diving Mask. Journal of Forensic Sciences 58(5) · July 2013, DOI: 10.1111/1556-4029.12239 · Source: PubMed https://www.researchgate.net/publication/253647263_Suicidal_Nitrogen_Inhalation_by_use_of_Scuba_Full-Face_Diving_Mask

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | Nov 1, 2019 2:05:47 AM

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