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SPJ President Neuts’ statement about the passage of Ohio death penalty bill


December 18, 2014

Dana Neuts, SPJ National President, 360.920.1737 (PDT),
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317.361.4134,

INDIANAPOLIS— The Society of Professional Journalists is frustrated that despite efforts to thwart the passage of the Ohio legislature’s HB 663 – a measure that limits transparency surrounding executions – the bill will likely take effect March 20.

The precedent that this bill creates regarding Ohio’s death penalty laws is disturbing because it could foster an environment of secrecy in every aspect of death penalty cases – from limiting information available to reporters covering an execution, to keeping the accused, their relatives and the public in the dark.

The bill will allow the state to keep private the names of companies that make drugs used for executions and the names of personnel who administer the drugs. It is expected to be signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich next week.

Ohio isn’t the only state with capital punishment to have difficulty obtaining drugs for lethal injections because manufacturers worry about negative public reaction to their participation in the process. Legislation such as this, however, does not fix the problem and only creates more issues in an already complex situation.

Thanks to SPJ Region 4 Director Patti Newberry for tracking developments on this bill and former SPJ national president Kevin Smith for presenting SPJ’s concerns about the bill at two hearings. SPJ and other groups who support open government will continue to monitor the issue in Ohio and other states and push for transparency surrounding capital punishment.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit .


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