The state of Arizona is preparing to execute death row inmates with the same chemical gas that was used in Auschwitz death chambers during the Holocaust.
The Arizona Department of Corrections has spent over $2,000 on the ingredients used to make the deadly cyanide gas.
According to documents obtained by The Guardian, the department purchased a solid brick of potassium cyanide in December for $1,530. It also bought sodium hydroxide pellets and sulphuric acid. When these ingredients are combined, the lethal gas is created.
Experts say that the gas chamber is the most dangerous and complicated method of execution. The prisoner is strapped to a chair in an airtight chamber before potassium cyanide pellets are dropped into a bath of sulphuric acid under the chair, creating the gas.
The Arizona State Prison Complex has a gas chamber that was built in 1949. It wasn’t used for 22 years. It is now being “refurbished” after the state has decided to restart executions.
They were stopped for seven years after the lethal injection of Joseph Wood in 2014 went horribly wrong.
However, documents reveal that a series of checks have been put into place at ASPC’s Florence Complex gas chamber. They included seals on windows and the door checked to make sure the room was airtight. Water was first used in the tests instead of any chemicals, while a smoke grenade was used to imitate the gas.
The state also used some shockingly basic tests, including prison officials checking for gas leaks with a candle.
The two inmates likely to be first to experience the new system, out of 115 on death row, are Frank Atwood and Clarence Dixon, both 65.
Atwood was sentenced to death in 1984 for killing an eight-year-old girl named Vicki Lynne Hoskinson. Dixon murdered Deana Bowdoin, a college student, in 1978.
Atwood’s lawyer, Joseph Perkovich, told the publication it is unfair for the state to hurry towards an execution when the investigation into his client’s innocence has been delayed.
Perkovich also said that “Frank Atwood is prepared to die. He is a man of Greek Orthodox faith and is preparing for this moment. But he does not want to be tortured and subjected to a botched execution.”
Although the state appears to be pressing ahead with its plans, the use of hydrogen cyanide is widely associated with the Nazis, who used the concoction under the name Zyklon B in extermination camps such as Auschwitz.