In order to resume executions after a seven-year hiatus, Arizona has made renovations to its gas chamber, where the last lethal gas execution in the country took place more than two decades ago, before the United States reject the brutal nature of the deaths.
The state has purchased materials to produce hydrogen cyanide gas, which was used in some executions in the United States and used by the Nazis to kill 865,000 Jews in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The low-key renovation late last year at the Florence prison in southeast Phoenix was the target of criticism that it is a form of punishment that is out of step with modern sensibilities.
“Regardless of whether or not you support the death penalty in general, there is a consensus in American society that a gas created as a pesticide and used to eliminate Jews has no place in the administration of criminal justice,” he wrote in a statement. this week the American Jewish Committee.
Corrections officials declined to explain why they are using the gas chamber again. However, the move comes at a time when it is increasingly difficult for states to obtain the drugs for lethal injections as producers refuse to supply them.
Nationally, executions have approached record lows due to shortages, although some states find ways to get around it. Last month, South Carolina passed a law that forces those sentenced to death to choose between the electric chair or a newly formed firing squad.
Arizona has also struggled to find suppliers for the drugs, but revealed a few months ago that it had received a shipment of pentobarbital.
Corrections officials noted that legal and constitutional requirements allowed death row inmates to opt for the gas chamber if convicted of crimes that occurred before Arizona adopted lethal injection in 1992. There are four states with gas chamber laws in effect that they were written decades ago.
It is unknown if any Arizona inmates have expressed a preference for the method.
Associated Press reporter Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.
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