Since 2015, state law has allowed for execution by nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection is unavailable.
Oklahoma's announcement follows years of national turmoil about execution drugs, including pitched legal battles and resistance from pharmaceutical companies that have questioned whether their products should be used in death chambers. "Using (inert gases) will be effective, simple to administer, easy to obtain and requires no complex medical procedures".
Allbaugh told reporters that "I'm not anxious about anything" when asked about being the first state in the nation to use nitrogen for executions, BuzzFeed News reports.
In 2016, the state's multicounty grand jury recommended Oklahoma use nitrogen gas as the execution method given the increasing difficulty in obtaining the proper drugs for lethal injections. A bungled procedure in 2014 left an inmate writhing on the gurney.
In a statement, Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender, who is representing Oklahoma death row prisoners in an execution method lawsuit, said the process must proceed with "due diligence and caution".
In 2014, the execution of Clayton Lockett gained global attention when he kicked, writhed and grimaced for 20 minutes before his execution was called off; he died of a heart attack not long after. "It will be some time, I think, before an execution can be scheduled". Gas inhalation would be the state's primary execution method if approved, officials said Wednesday.
While use of the death penalty has dramatically declined nationwide, a handful of states have been outliers and continued to carry out executions. A bill that would make the electric chair the state's default execution method is now before the House Committee on the Judiciary. Neither state has used the drug in a lethal injection so far.
Oklahoma officials said they had chosen nitrogen in part because it is often used in places where assisted suicide is legal.
On Tuesday night, Conaway appeared to backtrack from his earlier remarks, telling reporters that whether Russian meddling hurt Hillary Clinton or helped Trump was a "glass half-full, glass half-empty" question.
Allbaugh, the head of the corrections department, said his agency was working to develop a protocol. "Trying to find alternative compounds or someone with prescribing authority willing to provide us with the drugs is becoming exceedingly hard, and we will not attempt to obtain the drugs illegally".
State lawmakers then passed a law approving use of the gas.
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