Governor Mary Fallin today signed House Bill 1879, a measure allowing the state to perform executions through nitrogen hypoxia if the current method of execution – lethal injection – is ruled unconstitutional or becomes unavailable. The United States Supreme Court is currently reviewing Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocols.
Under current Oklahoma law, if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional or otherwise becomes unavailable, the state can revert to the electric chair as a second alternative and firing squad as the third alternative for capital punishment. HB 1879 makes nitrogen hypoxia the second alternative, electric chair the third and firing squad the final alternative.
Nitrogen hypoxia causes a quick loss of consciousness and then death from lack of oxygen.
After signing the bill, Fallin reiterated her support of the death penalty for especially brutal murders.
“Oklahoma executes murderers whose crimes are especially heinous,” said Fallin. “I support that policy, and I believe capital punishment must be performed effectively and without cruelty. The bill I signed today gives the state of Oklahoma another death penalty option that meets that standard.”
HB 1879, authored by Rep. Mike Christian and Sen. Anthony Sykes, passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. It passed 85-10 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and 41-0 in the Oklahoma State Senate.