Magazine article The Quill

SPJ Effort Leads to Reversal of Prison-Interview Ruling

Magazine article The Quill

SPJ Effort Leads to Reversal of Prison-Interview Ruling

Article excerpt

On Jan. 17, the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a district court's ruling that banned faceto-face interviews with federal Death Row inmates.

In August, SPJ joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Hoosier State Press Association in an amicus brief to the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals in Hammer v. Ashcroft, which challenged a Bureau of Prisons' policy banning face-to-face interviews with federal Death Row inmates.

The case initially filed in federal court by David Paul Hammer, who is awaiting his death sentence in the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., attacked the policy as an infringement on Hammer's First Amendment rights. The district court granted summary judgment for the government, and Hammer appealed to the 7th Circuit.

The brief argued that the in-person interview ban was implemented for impermissible reasons: the bureau enacted the policy after Ed Bradley's interview with Timothy McVeigh on "60 Minutes," which sparked outrage from various high-ranking government officials, including then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. …

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