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Thursday, July 26, 2007

ACLU, journalists file lawsuit to make entire executions open

By JILL ZEMAN, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
sfgate.com

(07-25) 12:30 PDT LITTLE ROCK, (AP) --

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and several journalists filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, asking state prison officials to let witnesses see the entire execution process, not just when poison flows into condemned inmates.

Now, media and public witnesses cannot watch as intravenous tubes are inserted and removed from the inmates. The curtains to the execution chamber open to witnesses after the condemned prisoner is already strapped to the gurney, and close once the inmate is dead.

"Witnesses should be allowed to see the entire process, including strapping the condemned down and the insertion of needles," said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pine Bluff. "The public has a First Amendment right to view executions from the moment the condemned is escorted into the execution chamber, including those initial procedures that are inextricably intertwined with the process of putting the condemned inmate to death."

Plaintiffs are the ACLU of Arkansas, the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Arkansas Times Inc., and journalist Max Brantley, editor of the Arkansas Times.

Arkansas Department of Correction Spokeswoman Dina Tyler didn't immediately return a call for comment.

The last inmate executed in Arkansas was Eric Nance, put to death in 2005 for the murder and attempted rape of Malvern teenager Julie Heath.

"Allowing such observation would not only ensure access to a public governmental proceeding, but would foster understanding, discussion, and debate concerning an issue of public controversy, to wit, the propriety of capital punishment in Arkansas," the lawsuit said.

The ACLU has filed similar suits in other states, saying that corrections departments violated First Amendment rights by not allowing public and the media access to the entire process.

In July 1999, the Oregon Supreme Court declared state rules invalid that prohibited execution witnesses from seeing the insertion of needles.

In August 2002, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the public has a First Amendment right to view executions from the beginning, including procedures involved with putting an inmate to death. Its decision is not binding on states outside the 9th Circuit.

In early 2003, the California Department of Corrections stopped its legal battle and decided to allow the media to witness the executions in full.



I have to admit that I agree with them. In fact, we shouldn't stop there.

In keeping with the ACLU's thinking; "The public has a First Amendment right to view abortions from the moment the condemned (and mother) is escorted into the execution chamber, including those initial procedures that are inextricably intertwined with the process of putting the condemned baby to death."

or

"The public has a First Amendment right to view the court ordered death of the disabled from the moment the feeding tube is withdrawn, including those initial procedures that are inextricably intertwined with the process of putting the condemned patient to death."

Of course, the journalists and newspapers are only interested in producing the print version of "reality TV" and propping up their flagging profits.

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1 Comments:

Blogger James Shott said...

If the public has the opportunity to see the horror of an abortion, maybe they will understand what actually is happening.

If the public has the opportunity to see a low-life scumbag get his/her just deserts, maybe it will cause some of them to think before they kill an innocent person.

It surely can't hurt.

8/19/2007 6:25 PM  

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