Judge tours San Quentin's new death chamber

February 8, 2011 12:58:27 PM PST
The federal judge who stopped lethal injection executions at San Quentin five years ago has inspected the new death chamber. He will decide whether the state can resume executions.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel toured the new $900,000 lethal injection room with attorneys, a handful of reporters and prison officials.

Fogel stopped lethal injection executions in California in 2006 after he ruled that the converted gas chamber was so dim, cramped and antiquated, that inmates were at risk of suffering cruel and unusual pain. He also had problems with the training of the staff and procedures for executing inmates.

The state plans to expand its death row facilities at the cost of $420 million over the next 10 years. Some opponents would rather have that money spent on the disabled.

"The governor is proposing to cut our budget by $750 million. This is going to destroy services for persons with developmental disabilities. When we go back to our governor and back to our legislators - they say 'well where do you want us to cut?' Well we think we have found a place to cut," said Marin Ventures Exec. Dir. John Rumsey.

Fogel will also rule on the drug combination used to execute inmates. The state plans on using a three drug series; some state are now using just one. Some opposed to the death penalty said there are problems with the supply of the three step method.

There are 720 inmates on death row.

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