The settlement agreement in Inquirer v. Wetzel is at the link.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, "Witnesses permitted to view entire execution procedure," by Amy Worden.
Witnesses to future executions in Pennsylvania will, for the first time in recent memory, be able to see and hear the entire procedure.
Under an agreement to settle a federal lawsuit filed last year by The Inquirer and the Harrisburg Patriot-News, witnesses will view the process from the moment the condemned person enters the death chamber to the time he or she is pronounced dead.
"This is a victory for First Amendment rights and the public's right to know," acting Inquirer editor Stan Wischnowski said. "By retaining access to the entire execution process, this ensures a more informed discussion of the death penalty now and in the future, and also promotes a strong sense of fairness and transparency."
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, argued that the state Department of Corrections violated the First Amendment by preventing witnesses, including reporters and family members of victims, from observing and hearing the entire process.
In 1998, during the last execution, as in prior years, prison officials at SCI Rockview, the state's execution site, drew a curtain over the window between the execution chamber and the witness room, blocking witnesses from viewing most of the process.
This prevented witnesses from seeing the times when lethal-injection executions went awry, said the ACLU, which represented the plaintiffs, in a statement.
In the compromise, the Corrections Department agreed to open the curtain between the witness room and the death chamber during the duration of the execution and set up a public address system so the witnesses will hear the activity and any statements the inmate might make.
"Papers, Pa. prisons settle dispute over executions," is AP coverage, via the San Francisco Chronicle.
A federal lawsuit over Pennsylvania executions has been settled so that witnesses will be able to see the procedure from the moment the inmate enters the death chamber until the point when he or she is pronounced dead.
The deal means prison officials will not be allowed to continue their practice of pulling a curtain over the window to block the witnesses' view of lethal injection. The sound could be cut off, however, if the inmate makes threatening or malicious statements toward witnesses.
Stan Wischnowski, the Inquirer's acting editor, called it a victory for First Amendment rights and the public's right to know.