After a seven year hiatus, Arizona pushes to resume executions using gas chambers, where the country’s last lethal-gas execution took place more than two decades ago, when the US condemned the executions for their horrific nature. Arizona has purchased the materials to make hydrogen cyanide gas, which was used in previous executions and the murder of around 865,000 Jews by Nazis at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The Republican-controlled state has been working hard in recent months to revitalize its profoundly problematic execution system. Following the gruesomely botched lethal injection of Joseph Wood in 2014, the death penalty in Arizona has been suspended for seven years.
Arizona has been secretly refurbishing the gas chambers, but once they started becoming more public about their decisions, people were quick to criticize. Even if it was used in the past, the use of gas chambers does not agree with modern criminal justices. They were able to test the strength of the concealment of the chamber by holding up candles, and stayed lit up successfully without flickering.
“Whether or not one supports the death penalty as a general matter, there is general agreement in American society that a gas devised as a pesticide, and used to eliminate Jews, has no place in the administration of criminal justice,” the American Jewish Committee wrote in a statement this week.From the U.S. News article, “Arizona Refurbishes Gas Chamber in Push to Resume Executions”
Corrections officials, or prison officers, have refused to reveal why the gas chamber is being restarted. However, as manufacturers refuse to sell lethal injection medications, authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to get them. With the shortfall, executions have dropped to near-record lows throughout the country, while some states are finding ways around it. Last month, the state of South Carolina enacted legislation requiring death row convicts to choose between the electric chair and a newly constituted firing squad.
Given the Nazis’ use of Zyklon B, a pesticide with hydrogen cyanide gas as its lethal component, Arizona officials should have recognized the implications of gas chambers, according to Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, who has criticized how executions are carried out in the United States.