News outlets sue Virginia Department of Corrections for right to view executions in their entirety

News outlets sue Virginia Department of Corrections for right to view executions in their entirety
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The Richmond Times-Dispatch and several other news organizations sued the Virginia Department of Corrections on Monday to make executions viewable to the public from beginning to end.

Since 2017, the state has concealed from public view everything in the execution process except the reading of death warrants and any last words by inmates, according to the Times-Dispatch.

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The policy allows one media representative each from print, television, radio and wire service and any immediate family members of the murder victims to witness aspects of the execution.

However, viewing can be blocked by curtains that prevent witnesses from seeing the attending physician, the heart monitor or those administering the lethal drugs.

“The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees the public an affirmative right of access to certain government proceedings, including a right to witness the entirety of executions carried out by the government,” states the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Richmond on Monday, according to the Times-Dispatch.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include The Associated Press, Guardian News and Media LLC, and the News Leader, a Gannett-owned newspaper that covers the Staunton and Waynesboro areas.

“Plaintiffs are news organizations that bring this [suit] to vindicate the public’s right, through their representatives in the press, to witness the entirety of executions conducted by the Virginia Department of Corrections,” the complaint reads.

The Virginia Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to a request for comment.