Stop executions in Virginia from being carried out in secrecy

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The Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) literally drew a curtain over the death penalty more than a year ago by preventing witnesses from being able to see the inmate walk into the execution room or be prepped for injections. In addition, state law shields providers of execution drugs from scrutiny by prohibiting them from being identified to the public. The ACLU of Virginia opposes the death penalty and advocates for its full abolishment. However, as long as it exists in Virginia, it must be done in the open.

We need to speak up and demand transparency before another execution is carried out under layers of secrecy. The American Bar Association (ABA) in 2015 laid out its recommendations for a transparent process, and at the very least, our state government should comply with its recommendations.

Please tell Governor Ralph Northam to direct the DOC to change its execution protocols immediately to fully comply with the ABA standards of transparency.

To Governor Ralph Northam:

We must prevent more executions from happening under layers of secrecy. Until the death penalty is completely abolished in Virginia, please take the following three steps to ensure a transparent process in keeping with the American Bar Association's (ABA) death penalty transparency resolution :

  • Direct the Department of Corrections (DOC) to make its full "Execution Manual" available to the public.
  • Require the DOC to follow procedures ensuring that witnesses who are required by law to be present as stand-ins for the public can view the entire procedure from its start to its deadly end.
  • Advocate for repeal of a law that prohibits the DOC from making public information about the drugs used in lethal injections and their sources.

Finally, as an empathetic human being and a physician bound by an oath to do no harm, we respectfully request that you lead a re-examination of Virginia's gruesome past and present regarding the death penalty and join us in advocating for its repeal.