Society

Missouri Attorney General: State May Bring Gas Chambers Back Into Use

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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Look out, Missouri residents.

Your state may be bringing back the gas chamber soon.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster recently said that if the state Supreme Court doesn’t start allowing lethal injections again, the state may be forced to go back to the gas chamber. Missouri hasn’t used gas chambers for capital punishment since 1965, and the chambers have now been turned into a tourist attraction.

Asked on whether gas chambers were a form of cruel and unusual punishment, Koster had this to say:

"The premeditated murder of an innocent Missourian is cruel and unusual punishment. The lawful implementation of the death penalty, following a fair and reasoned jury trial, is not."

Missouri executed 38 convicts with the gas chamber from 1938-1965. The death penalty was then outlawed until 1989. Since then, all 68 convicts have been executed with lethal injections.

But the state is scrambling for lethal injections ingredients right now. Manufacturers quit selling the lethal three-chemical compound to the state recently, and official are yet find a suitable replacement.

Legislators had planned to use the anesthetic propofol for executions, but the compound has never been used to execute prisoners in the U.S. before. Propofol, by the way, is the substance allegedly used in the death of Michael Jackson in 2009.

Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center says he doesn’t see the gas chambers being put back in use, though.

"It's unlikely that states would go back to these older methods, and if they did I'm not sure they would be upheld in the courts”, he said.

Chairperson Rita Linhardt from the board of the Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty thinks Attorney General Koster is bluffing too.

"The gas chamber has been dismantled in Missouri, so from a practical point of view I don't know how that could be done," she said. "I would think that would be a considerable cost and expense for the state to rebuild the machinery of death.”

Sources: Newser, AP