American Jewish Committee (AJC) is firmly denouncing Arizona’s widely reported plan to use a Holocaust era poisonous gas to execute prisoners. No one in Arizona has been executed since 1999, but the state’s attorney recently requested that two of the 115 inmates on death row be executed, and a chamber where Zyklon B will be used has been prepared.

The full AJC statement follows:

“Arizona’s decision to employ Zyklon B gas as a means of execution defies belief. While there can be no doubt about its effectiveness – the Nazis used it to kill millions of innocent Jews – it is that very effectiveness as an instrument of genocide that makes it utterly inappropriate for use by a civilized state in a proceeding sanctioned by the state and its judiciary.

“So long as the death penalty is legally acceptable, one must be prepared to accept some level of cruelty in the process. But there is something profoundly wrong when a state is so anxious to execute people, who in any event can be incapacitated by incarcerating them forever, that it is prepared to resort to a method of execution that inevitably, inextricably, and forever is linked to the worst outrages of human history.

“Whether or not one supports the death penalty as a general matter, there is general agreement in American society that a gas devised as a pesticide, and used to eliminate Jews, has no place in the administration of criminal justice.”

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