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Politics & Government

Idaho News Media Will Watch Entire Execution

Idaho's Execution Chamber_Scott Ki
Scott Ki
Boise State Public Radio

The execution of Idaho inmate Richard Leavitt Tuesday will differ in two ways from the last lethal injection in November.  The state will use one lethal drug instead of three, and media members who are witness to the execution will watch the entire process from start to finish.   Reporters think that second change will help the public have an informed debate on the death penalty. 

Idaho’s execution of Paul Rhoades seven months ago began behind closed blinds.  Once opened, four reporters and other witnesses saw the condemned strapped to a table with an IV in his arm.  Lawyers for several death row inmates have argued that a botched IV insertion could cause undue pain and suffering. 

Witnesses for Tuesday's lethal injection of Richard Leavitt will see everything that happens once he enters the execution chamber.  Chuck Brown is a Lewiston attorney for Idaho news organizations.  He sued the state on their behalf.   He says, "If an execution is what occurs in our state, then all aspects of it should be open so that people are fully aware of it and can discuss it, debate it, as to whether or not this is something that they want."

Brown says media witnesses act as the public’s eyes and ears to form an opinion on capital punishment.  Judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.  A spokesman for the Idaho Department of Correction says they will honor the court’s decision.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio