Missouri adjusts policy for media witnesses at state executions

Dan Weinbaum
November 28, 2018 - 6:18 am

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The state of Missouri has a new policy for media members who apply to witness inmate executions.

The Missouri Department of Corrections will no longer pick and choose who gets to serve as media witnesses to state executions. It stems from a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of an NPR reporter who once worked in St Louis, who was continually denied access to be a witness. The reporter has since moved on to another outlet, and he covers capital punishment across the country. 

The practice was discriminatory, said Tony Rothert, an ACLU attorney. 

"Prior to these new policies the director of the department of corrections had complete discretion on who to invite, or not invite, to be a media witness," Rothert said.

The ACLU alleges that the previous director of corrections denied permission to witness executions based on reporters' political leanings.

The new policy dictates The Associated Press, the Missouri Broadcasters Association, and the Missouri Press Association will select which reporters will serve as media witnesses, and act as so-called pool reporters.

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