News Organizations Sue Over Public Access to Executions in Virginia

In this handout photo provided by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, San Quentin's death lethal injection facility is shown before being dismantled at San Quentin State Prison on March 13, 2019, in San Quentin, Calif. (Credit: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Getty Images)

In this handout photo provided by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, San Quentin's death lethal injection facility is shown before being dismantled at San Quentin State Prison on March 13, 2019, in San Quentin, Calif. (Credit: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Getty Images)

Four news organizations have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Virginia Department of Corrections is violating the First Amendment by limiting the public’s access to executions.

The lawsuit filed in federal court Monday seeks a court order to ensure the public can view the execution process in its entirety.

Virginia’s current execution protocol requires that curtains cover the viewing window during “crucial steps” in the process of carrying out a lethal injection or electrocution — the two execution methods allowed under state law.

The suit says the curtains prevents public monitoring of how long it takes to place IV lines for a lethal injection and whether the inmate experiences pain early on.

The news organizations suing are: The Associated Press; Guardian News & Media LLC; BH Media Group, owner of the Richmond Times-Dispatch; and Gannett Co., Inc., owner of The News Leader of Staunton, Virginia.

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