The Mississippi House are considering a bill that would offer convicts sentenced to death the options of a gas chamber, firing squad, or electrocution to the already extant method of lethal injection used in the Magnolia State for execution. Introduced by Mississippi House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, a Republican, is a response what he said are a series of lawsuits filed by “liberal, left-wing radicals.”
The bill passed in the House on February 8 and now goes to the Mississippi Senate.
The State of Mississippi is facing multiple lawsuits that argue that lethal injection -- the only method of carrying out the death penalty now -- violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment delineated in the US Constitution. MIssissippi has not been able to get its hands on the necessary drugs it once used to end the lives of convicts because the European manufacturers have ceased to sell them in the US. The last time an execution took place in Mississippi was 2012. There are currently about 47 people waiting on death row for their Maker.
Democratic state Rep. Willie Perkins, a death penalty opponent, asked Republican Gipson about “the time of suffering” that inmates experience before dying should the state resort to the methods proposed by Gipson’s bill. Gipson could not adequately answer the questions.
Currently, only Oklahoma and Utah have the firing squad option. Eight states reserve electrocution as an option. All told, lethal injection is the primary method of execution used in the 33 states that have the death penalty. Five states have the gas chamber as an option, while another three have the hangman’s noose as an option.
Lethal injection as practiced in the US involves three injections in the following order: Sodium thiopental or pentobarbital: ultrashort-action barbiturate, an anesthetic agent used at a high dose that renders the person unconscious in less than 30 seconds. Depression of respiratory activity is one of the characteristic actions of this drug; Pancuronium bromide: nondepolarizing muscle relaxant, causes complete, fast, and sustained paralysis of the skeletal striated muscles, including the diaphragm and the rest of the respiratory muscles; this would eventually cause death by asphyxiation; Potassium chloride: stops the heart, thus causes death by cardiac arrest.
In addition to the US, the other countries that use lethal injection are China, Guatemala, Thailand, and Vietnam