BREAKING NEWS Off-duty Boswell Town Marshal dies in single-vehicle crash Full Story
SEVERE WX : Flood Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Anti-death penalty groups sue, say roadblocks impede speech

Anti-death penalty activists asked a judge in a Tuesday lawsuit to order Indiana State Police to stop blocking roads to a prison where federal executions have resumed after a 17-year pause, arguing that the roadblocks constitute unconstitutional no-protest zones and impede protesters’ free-speech rights.

Posted: Aug 5, 2020 2:56 PM

Anti-death penalty activists asked a judge in a Tuesday lawsuit to order Indiana State Police to stop blocking roads to a prison where federal executions have resumed after a 17-year pause, arguing that the roadblocks constitute unconstitutional no-protest zones and impede protesters’ free-speech rights.

Hours before three July executions, troopers cut off public roads to the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, where all federal executions are carried out by lethal injection. Four more executions are planned for this month and September as part of the Trump administration’s resumption of federal executions.

The federal lawsuit filed in Indianapolis by ACLU of Indiana lawyers on behalf of the activists says blocked roads have forced demonstrators to gather nearly 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) from the prison by a car dealership next to a highway, preventing them from mounting credible protests. It seeks an injunction permitting protesters to gather just outside prison gates.

“The image of persons protesting and holding vigil alongside a car dealership on a state highway hardly compares to the image of persons doing the exact same thing outside the entrance to a federal prison,” written arguments filed with the lawsuit say.

Indiana State Police is the sole defendant named in the suit. Sgt. Matt Ames, an ISP spokesman, said the state agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons did set aside a fenced-in area within the sprawling prison grounds for demonstrators. But the lawsuit says it is too restrictive and too isolated, making it impossible for protesters to be seen by and interact with members of the public and media.

Bureau of Prisons rules approve only a short list of items protesters can bring into the designated protest site. It includes Bibles, rosaries and candles. It specifically bans cellphones and recording devices, as well as signs made of wood or metal.

Abraham Bonowitz, director of Death Penalty Action, one of the plaintiffs, said he has protested executions in a dozen states and has never seen such restrictions. He speculated that there may be discomfort about what he said was President Donald Trump’s push to restore executions to burnish a reputation as a law-and-order president.

“Executions used to be in public because there was a belief that if people could see it, it would scare them into behaving,” he said. “I think what is happening here is the people who are scared now are the ones carrying out the executions. Perhaps they don’t want to be seen as tools of the Trump campaign.”

Those suing also include the Indiana Abolition Coalition and the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Security was tight during the first federal executions in nearly 20 years in mid-July. The first execution on July 14 was of former white supremacist Daniel Lewis Lee. Two others, Wesley Purkey and Dustin Honken, were executed later the same week.

Heavily armed guards encircled the small execution building inside the prison. A high black curtain was also draped around the building, completely blocking views of the death house.

Rules for journalists attending the execution include that they leave their pens and notebooks at a media center before heading to the death-chamber facility. Prison officials provided pens and paper only minutes before the executions began.

The executions of Christopher Andre Vialva and William Emmett LeCroy are scheduled for in late September.

Vialva was convicted in the 1999 kidnapping and killing of an Iowa couple in Texas. LeCroy was convicted of raping and killing a 30-year-old nurse in 2001.

The only Native American on federal death row, Lezmond Mitchell, is scheduled to be put to death on Aug. 26. Keith Dwayne Nelson’s execution is set for the same week.

Mitchell was convicted of killing of a woman and her 9-year-old granddaughter. Nelson was convicted of kidnapping a 10-year-old girl in Kansas, raping and then strangling her.

Lee, Purkey and Honken’s victims also included children.

___

AP writer Rick Callahan in Indianapolis also contributed to this report.

___

Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mtarm

Lafayette
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 57°
Kokomo
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 56°
Rensselaer
Mostly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Lafayette
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 56°
Danville
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 53°
Frankfort
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 55°
Frankfort
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 55°
Monticello
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 42°
Monticello
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 42°
Logansport
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 52°
March coming in like a lamb Monday...
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

WLFI is promoting fire safety with FREE smoke detectors

 WLFI and several local fire departments are helping with your fire safety this winter. CLICK HERE. 

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 660942

Reported Deaths: 12556
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion905601638
Lake48352874
Allen35762635
Hamilton32026396
St. Joseph29865511
Elkhart25350414
Vanderburgh21225377
Tippecanoe19977200
Johnson16319356
Porter15938269
Hendricks15801300
Clark11928180
Madison11730316
Vigo11578229
Monroe10312161
Delaware9830179
LaPorte9755196
Howard9047196
Kosciusko8549109
Bartholomew7440147
Warrick7403150
Hancock7394130
Floyd7189169
Wayne6630191
Grant6422157
Morgan6075125
Boone607288
Dubois5895111
Dearborn546866
Cass543399
Henry541793
Marshall5417104
Noble508578
Jackson464366
Shelby460190
Lawrence4179111
Gibson400881
Harrison398763
Clinton395053
Montgomery386283
DeKalb384678
Miami356763
Knox356485
Whitley348936
Huntington342376
Steuben337855
Wabash330876
Putnam329459
Ripley326861
Adams322549
Jasper315443
White297252
Jefferson294473
Daviess285396
Fayette271456
Decatur270488
Greene261280
Posey260531
Wells257674
Scott249950
Clay240844
LaGrange240770
Randolph225576
Spencer217030
Jennings214744
Washington210427
Sullivan203139
Fountain201142
Starke187951
Owen181953
Fulton178237
Jay177628
Carroll176418
Perry173235
Orange171150
Rush164322
Vermillion160242
Franklin159335
Tipton146141
Parke138815
Pike127432
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown94939
Benton91813
Crawford90313
Martin80014
Warren75513
Switzerland7537
Union67110
Ohio53211
Unassigned0431

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events