Arizona poised to use Nazi-era gas in death row executions
PHOENIX, Arizona - At least one U.S. state intends to proceed with the controversial practice of carrying out executions of death row inmates by means of gas chambers that make use of Nazi-era chemicals, ABC News reports.
The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry has invested thousands of dollars into efforts to 'refurbish' gas chambers for such executions, according to a report in The Guardian.
Among the items The Department of Corrections allegedly bought to revamp the chambers was a $2,000 purchase of ingredients needed to make hydrogen cyanide, which was a gas used by Nazis at Auschwitz.
ABC News says The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry told The Washington Post in a statement that it was "prepared to perform its legal obligation and commence the execution process as part of the legally imposed sentence, regardless of method selected."
But some feel the use of Nazi-era chemicals in executions is immoral due to its historical ties to the Holocaust.
Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, alluded to this while speaking with ABC News about the matter.
Dunham said, "If they say, 'We'll carry out the law because it's the law,' that's a bit like saying 'We're just following orders,' and we know where we've heard that before. If they say they were aware of the history and they didn't care, that's even worse."
Besides the historical significance of the practice, many are concerned that carrying out executions by means of gas chambers is inhumane due to questions surrounding how much additional pain and suffering is inflicted before an inmate dies.
The last gas chamber execution in the U.S. was in Arizona in 1999, and the inmate, a man named Walter LaGrand, reportedly choked and gagged for 18 minutes before dying.
Though some states have prohibited the use of certain execution methods, no method is outright banned nationwide
Currently, the state executes inmates via lethal injection and has 119 people on death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Arizona has executed 37 people since 1992, according to state records.
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