Judge Jeremy Fogel toured San Quentin's revamped death chamber today in a fact-finding trip meant to help him determine whether to re-start executions by the state.
Fogel halted executions in 2006, on grounds that the procedure, as implemented by the state, violated the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Among the problems the judge found were inadequately trained and screened execution facilitators, unreliable recordkeeping, and concerns that inmates may be conscious when injected with lethal drugs.
The state spent $900,000 in renovating the execution chamber in order to meet some of the judge's objections.
The San Jose Mercury News was one of five news organizations that accompanied Fogel on today's visit. From the paper's report:
With a phalanx of lawyers, court staffers, prison officials and media in tow, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel spent about an hour moving through each room of this prison's newly-constructed lethal injection wing. Fogel's expedition is part of his review of a five-year challenge to California's lethal injection method that will continue to unfold in the coming months...
Fogel was reserved in his questioning, giving few hints as to whether the lethal injection chamber near the prison's death row addresses his previous concerns. Full article