“Secret Execution” bill moves forward

The Ohio House of Representatives passed a so-called “Secret Executions” bill on Thursday, 61-25, a day after a House committee pushed it out to the full chamber with a 9-4 vote.

The Senate will likely take up a version of the measure after Thanksgiving.

The bill is bad for journalists in Ohio (and elsewhere) as it adds secrecy to a process already plagued by controversy. It is aimed primarily at keeping secret the identities of manufacturers of lethal-injection drugs and of medical professionals who administer the drugs — but would have wider implications for transparency on capital punishment in the state.

SPJ joined the fight against the bill. Former national SPJ president Kevin Smith and I drafted a statement that he presented before the committee on Wednesday, Nov. 19. Current president Dana Neuts reacted with a statement of her own following the committee vote.

Meanwhile, Ohio’s penal system got another black eye this week, when a judge exonerated two Ohio inmates convicted for a 1975 murder. Both had spent time on Death Row during their incarcerations.

The effort to fight the Secret Executions measure will continue when it reaches the Ohio Senate. Ohio is scheduled to execute its next Death Row inmate Feb. 11, 2015.



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