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

KPCC’s Julie Small has an audio report about the case, and KGO includes video of the chamber in its report.

In September, The California Report’s Scott Shafer went on the press tour conducted by the prison for the unveiling of the new chamber. He took the following photos:


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of EconomyBeat.org, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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