New Death Chamber Questioned in Hearing

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The new chamber was discovered last month by policy analysts visiting the prison.  Both the head of Corrections and Governor Schwarzenegger have said they did not know construction was underway…  But at the legislative hearing a prison official’s testimony raised questions about who knew what. Democratic State Senator Mike Machado questioned Kingston “Bud” Prunty, the Undersecretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation:

"So there was a discussion of modifications to the chamber in the presence of the staff of the attorney general and the Governor’s staff…

"Um, yes…”

 The new construction began after a judge found problems with the way the state administered lethal injections—including poorly designed facilities.  

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says the initial cost estimate for the work was just short of the amount which requires a report to the legislature. That cost estimate has since doubled. However lawmakers say that initial amount was questionable and that the judge only asked for a response, not construction.  Schwarzenegger stopped work on the project last month.  His press secretary says the issue will be addressed in the Governor’s upcoming revised budget.