Alabama inmate seeks US Supreme Court intervention to halt uncommon second execution effort

Lawyers representing Kenneth Smith, who was convicted for a murder-for-hire offense in 1988, are currently arguing that it would be unconstitutional for the government to attempt a second execution after a botched first attempt.

They claim that such an act would be in violation of the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

According to Smith’s lawyers, there has only been one instance in U.S. history where such a scenario occurred, and that was in 1947.

The lawyers expressed their disagreement by stating, “That, without a doubt, fits the exact description of torture.”

Alabama officials have stated that they must fulfill a sentence and execute a death warrant that has been issued by state courts.


In the past, certain governments, including the United States, have employed hazardous gases like hydrogen cyanide for execution purposes. However, in Alabama, a different approach is taken.

Instead of using toxic substances, they utilize nitrogen, which is a major component of breathable air, comprising approximately 78%. This method involves displacing the oxygen the prisoner breathes with pure nitrogen.

Lawmakers in recent years have approved gassing methods in Oklahoma and Mississippi due to the increasing difficulty in obtaining lethal-injection drugs. However, as of now, they have not yet implemented this method.

Alabama has made it clear that they will not halt the execution in the event that Smith vomits during the administration of pure nitrogen. LaCour dismissed Smith’s concerns about the potential risks associated with the mask, stating that they are merely speculative.

He further suggested that if the prisoner is worried about vomiting into the mask, he could choose to have his final meal earlier in the day or even the day before the scheduled execution.

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