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Montgomery, Ala. – Some say inhaling nitrogen gas would be like dying on a plane that depressurizes in flight, swiftly killing all aboard. Now more than a quarter of Alabama’s death row inmates have signed statements saying they’d prefer that gas over lethal injection.

State corrections officials say 51 of Alabama’s 180 inmates have chosen so-called nitrogen hypoxia as a way to die, allowed to state their preference after the state’s lawmakers voted this year to authorize that alternative execution method. With difficulties obtaining execution drugs and litigation arising over claims of botched lethal injections this decade, Alabama is not alone as it joins Oklahoma and Mississippi in exploring that as a potential alternative.

No inmate in the U.S. has been put to death with nitrogen gas before.

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