The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) has said it will not be able to perform an execution by nitrogen hypoxia after suggesting they may have the capability in a Monday Court filing.

ADOC commissioner John Q. Hamm said in a Thursday court filing that the state was unable to execute Alan Eugene Miller by the novel method of nitrogen hypoxia within the required time frame.

U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker, Jr. gave the state a deadline to file an affidavit on whether the state could attempt to execute Miller by nitrogen hypoxia on September 22 if lethal injection is blocked.

Miller claims he requested the new method for his execution in 2018, but his request was mishandled by prison staff. He is currently attempting to block his scheduled execution by lethal injection.

With the state unable to perform Miller’s preferred method of execution, an appeals court must decide if it will go forward with the scheduled lethal injection.

If the lethal injection is not blocked, Miller will be put to death on September 22.

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed execution method in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen. The process does not have a structured protocol, but it would involve replacing breathed oxygen with nitrogen, causing the individual to drift to sleep and pass away. Some have argued that the method would be more humane, while others have likened it to human experimentation.  

It's authorized as an execution method in Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi, but has never been attempted.

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