Jewish group supports Louisiana bill that would remove nitrogen gas from execution methods

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Louisiana Legislature is considering removing using gas as a method to execute death row inmates just months after adding it to the toolkit.

In February, Louisiana joined three other states authorizing the use of nitrogen hypoxia, or suffocation, to execute someone. After it was signed into law, the group Jews Against Gassing was formed to rally support for SB430 by state Sen. Katrina Jackson-Andrews to repeal the gassing portion.

“It is also deeply, deeply offensive to the memories of the millions who lost their lives to the Nazi regime,” said Cantor Kevil Margolius from the Touro Synagogue in New Orleans.

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The group has not taken a stance on the death penalty as a whole and the bill leaves in place the option for lethal injection and the electric chair as ways to put someone to death. The main message of the group is that using the gas is triggering for the many Jewish people and others impacted by the Holocaust.

“For Jewish people, and really for anybody with a knowledge of the Holocaust, the historical association with execution method is chilling and undeniable, eliciting a visceral response that evokes not justice but genocide,” said Naomi Yavneh Klos, a professor at Loyola University.

An execution by gas has only been performed so far by Alabama. Following the execution, litigation was filed claiming the death was not humane. Louisiana’s recently passed law also keeps the ingredients and provider of the drugs used for execution secret.

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A woman who is a victim of one of the 56 people on Louisiana’s death row spoke against the bill saying she wants her assailant to be put to death by any means necessary. The attorney general also put in a card against the bill.

The bill got out of committee with no objections and now heads to the full Senate for more debate.

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