Panel Urges Broad Media Prison Access To Educate Public


The news media’s ability to tell the public enough “to reach intelligent and informed opinions” about prisons “has been impeded by barriers that prevent members of the media from visiting facilities, talking to staff and prisoners, and reviewing official records,” says the report out today from the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons. Testifying before the panel, teporter Alan Elsner of Reuters compared covering the U.S. prison system to “what it used to be like trying to cover the former East Bloc, where one’s accesss was limited and movements were strictly monitored.”

The commission called for the “broadest possible [media] access to correctional facilities, consistent with valid concerns about security. Policies governing media access must be objective, streamlined, and consistently applied rather than being dependent on friendly relations betwen journalist and warden.” The report noted that the Society of Professional Journalists has identified North Carolina and Oregon as having reasonable policies of media access to prisons.


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