Virginia Executions Should Be Public, Lawsuit Says

Does a simple curtain constitute a violation of the freedom of the press? Prison policies in the state of Virginia regarding the concealment of the more gruesome steps and ultimate outcomes of death penalty executions are violations of the First Amendment; so argue four media organizations in a recent lawsuit.

From WTOP:

“The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond alleges that the department is violating the First Amendment by using curtains that block witnesses from seeing “crucial steps” in carrying out a lethal injection or electrocution — the two execution methods allowed under state law.

“These limits on witnesses’s ability to view Virginia’s executions severely curtail the public’s ability to understand how those executions are administered, or to assess whether a particular execution violates either the Constitution or the state’s prescribed execution procedures, or is otherwise botched,” the news organizations state in the lawsuit.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit in the Virginia Eastern District Court, case #3-19-cv-00692, are: The Associated Press; BH Media Group, owner of the Richmond Times-Dispatch; Gannett Co., Inc., owner of The News Leader of Staunton, Virginia; and Guardian News & Media LLC.

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