In an editorial, the Washington Post praises the Virginia Department of Corrections for a change of heart on its death row visitation policy. For the past three years, those sentenced to death have been allowed face-to-face visits with relatives, although they have not been allowed physical contact. The department said this month that it planned to toughen this already restrictive policy. Come Sept. 1, the dozen or so death row inmates in Virginia would have had to rely on video cameras to pipe in the sights and sounds of loved ones. No more eye contact, no more pressing hands against glass.
Virginia was poised to join Kansas as the only two of the 35 states in the nation that execute prisoners to prohibit in-person family visits, according to the Associated Press. The commonwealth said that efficiency and security drove the decision. For example, security personnel would no longer have to be taken off other duties to escort inmates and family members to visiting rooms. But on Friday the department engaged in an about-face. “There will be no change in the death row visitation policy at the present time,” spokesman Larry Traylor said in a statement. “We will continue to review and research current policy as well as other related issues and technical capabilities.”