Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered his staff to begin revising California's lethal injection procedure after a federal judge ruled the existing method was unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel issued the ruling Friday, but left open the possibility that the process of executing prisoners can be fixed. As of now, he said, executioners are poorly trained, work in dim, cramped quarters and often fail to properly mix the lethal, three-drug cocktail used to kill condemned inmates.
Schwarzenegger said his administration would take "immediate action to resolve court concerns." He said he had ordered his legal affairs secretary, Andrea Lynn Hoch and James Tilton, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, to come up with a plan to address the court's decision.
Government officials could not say when the state's new plan would be ready or when executions could resume.
California has suspended capital punishment since Fogel halted the execution of convicted rapist and murderer Michael Morales in February, citing evidence that the last six men executed at San Quentin prison might have been conscious and breathing when lethal injections were administered - meaning they might have felt unnecessary pain, the AP reports.
Lethal injection is used in 37 states. But it has come into question recently in many states. A Missouri judge declared that state's method unconstitutional two months ago and Gov. Jeb Bush declared a moratorium on all Florida executions last week after a lethal injection there was botched.