Pennsylvania asked to open executions

Sept. 27, 2012 at 4:55 PM
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HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Reporters should be able to witness executions from start to finish, two Pennsylvania newspapers say in a motion to open up the death chamber.

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Harrisburg Patriot-News asked a federal court Wednesday to order the state to change its execution protocol, the Inquirer reported. Pennsylvania could hold its first execution in 13 years next week.

"If you are going to use this punishment, you should not do it in an Orwellian manner where nobody can see it," said Paul Titus, of Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, which represents the newspapers.

Under the current protocol, witnesses are in another room behind a curtain that is only briefly pulled back after the inmate is strapped to a gurney. Even the condemned person's last words are done as a written statement.

"The execution protocols deprive the public of the information necessary to engage in an informed debate about the most severe penalty the government can impose on its citizens," the newspapers said in court papers.

Terrance Williams, 46, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection next week at Rockview Prison near State College. Williams, a native of Philadelphia, was sentenced to death for a murder committed when he was 18.

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles delayed a decision Thursday on a clemency recommendation. A Philadelphia judge who has also been asked to stop the execution has said she will announce her decision Friday.

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