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Friday, January 18, 2008

The Judicial Understatement of the Week...

A federal policy prohibiting death row inmates from conducting face-to-face interviews with reporters might have been enacted for political rather than safety reasons, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Indianapolis (7th Cir.) ruled on Tuesday.

The three-judge panel sent the case back to the trial court, which had upheld the Bureau of Prisons' (BOP) rule banning face-to-face interviews.

David Hammer, then a prisoner on death row, sued various Bureau of Prisons officials in 2001, after he was denied face-to-face interviews with the media. Between August and December 1999, Hammer conducted three in-person interviews at the prison he was housed at in Terre Haute, Ind. But, in 2000, he learned the prison wouldn't allow him to speak in-person to members of the press.

The new rule was put in place after fellow death row inmate Timothy McVeigh spoke about the Oklahoma City bombing with 60 Minutes in March 2000. In response to the interview, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and former BOP Director Kathleen Hawk-Sawyer announced a blanket media policy banning all federal death row inmates from giving face-to-face interviews with reporters.

More here.

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