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Calif. Judge Who Halted Prison Executions Tours Death Room

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SAN QUENTIN, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge who shut down the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison after an inspection five years ago returns there Tuesday to tour the new facility.

U.S District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel halted California executions in 2006 after finding that the state’s lethal injection procedure was cruel and unusual punishment. The San Jose-based judge ruled that the converted gas chamber and the prison’s training process needed extensive revisions.

The state has spent nearly $900,000 on a new death chamber, adopted new lethal injection regulations and changed its training program.

Fogel has scheduled a tour and hearing to help him decide whether executions can now resume.

The state Attorney General’s Office is pushing for an immediate resumption, while attorneys for two death row inmates insist the process is still flawed and unconstitutional.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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