Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton Credit: Gil Ford Photography

If lawsuits continue to prevent Mississippi from carrying out executions, a bill that passed the House Wednesday morning could give the state more options. 

Carl Gary Simmons Jr. was the last person put to death in Mississippi, in June 2012.

Since then, as states have run out of supplies of execution drugs and several lawsuits challenged the use of other chemicals, executions have been delayed in Mississippi and other states.

The provisions of House Bill 638 state that if chemicals that replace the traditional injection cocktail — pentobarbital, a muscle relaxer and potassium chloride — meet legal resistances, an alternative sequence would be used.

The bill calls for a succession of alternative execution methods, in order: nitrogen hypoxia, firing squad and electrocution. 

Nitrogen hypoxia involves sealing the condemned in a chamber which is filled with pure nitrogen, depriving them of oxygen, thus causing death.

“The death penalty is something that should be reserved, and is reserved, for the worst offenders. If we want a death penalty in Mississippi, this legislation will allow us to do that,” said Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, who presented the bill.

During questions and answers, Rep. Chris Bell, D-Jackson, asked Gipson, a Baptist preacher, what the Bible says about killing, grace and mercy. Bell followed up by asking Gipson whether the firing squad is inhumane and archaic.

“The state of Mississippi has chosen a humane option,” of lethal injection, Gipson said. “These liberal left wing radicals are trying to stop that.”

The bill passed 75 to 43.

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Ryan L. Nave, a native of University City, Mo., served as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief from May 2018 until April 2020. Ryan began his career with Mississippi Today February 2016 as an original member of the editorial team. He became news editor August 2016. Ryan has a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked for Illinois Times and served as news editor for the Jackson Free Press.

2 replies on “Execution options bill advances”

  1. Capital punishment is inhumane in any form. Ask the legislators who voted for this if the prison population has increased or decreased as a result of more severe punishment. Has it affected the rate of violent crimes? The statistics I’ve seen say that it hasn’t. This is a complicated issue. The victims and families of the crime have been denied their rights in the most ultimate sense. Therefore, the perpetrator’s rights shall be denied. The question is…what’s the solution to prevent these acts from continuing?
    If 75 of the 118 representatives believe “eye for an eye” is justice, and a bullet is cheaper than chemicals, then you could make the argument that a rope is cheaper than a bullet. Stones even less expensive.

    Have they thought of who they are going to get shoot the weapon to carry out this sentence? What will it do to the psyche of that individual? And all of the people in his influence? I’m sure it’s not an easy task to inject someone with potassium chloride. An unfathomable act in itself. But how much more disturbing is it to look down the barrel of a rifle at another human being and pull the trigger? Unarmed, subdued, and cognizant. Witnessed by families and communities of both shooter and target. Imagining this is gut-wrenching in and of itself.

    Rehabilitation is the solution we should be trying to find. I know that’s easier said than done. I wouldn’t object to denying the freedom of the guilty for the remainder of their life. But I also believe that someone with a mind that could commit an atrocity to such degree be put to death by his peers, has nothing to live for in the first place. How many others, at this moment, have nothing to live for? To develop such a disregard for humanity starts very early in life and it may take generations to solve. If someone is living in hell from the moment they’re born through adulthood, they may welcome their own execution, I should imagine. To kill another human being, without passion or prejudice, is an unnatural act. We should exhaust every effort to prevent such a thing. Particularly, at the hands of a sound, competent guardian enforcing a law ordered by men. Same as you. Same as me. Who has the right to take another life? If it’s immoral and unnatural for the criminal, is it not immoral and unnatural for the executioners? Unlawful by the criminal, dutiful by the executioners, but it’s still the same action.

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