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Reporters Committee condemns veto of California prison access bill

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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today condemned California Governor Gray Davis's veto Sunday of AB 2101, a…

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today condemned California Governor Gray Davis’s veto Sunday of AB 2101, a bill overwhelmingly passed by the California legislature that would have permitted journalists access to state prison inmates.

California journalists had interviewed prisoners for decades without incident before former Governor Pete Wilson’s corrections department banned media interviews in 1995. Since that time, California legislators have three times passed bills that would have restored meaningful media access to prisoners. Wilson vetoed the effort once, and Davis has now vetoed such legislation twice.

“There are countless reasons why the cloak of secrecy over California’s prison system is reprehensible,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy Dalglish. “Chief among them is the fact that the public will have no way to get timely and truthful information about the operations of California prisons.”

The Reporters Committee is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving First Amendment rights of journalists and the news media. Founded in 1970, it has provided research, guidance and representation in major press cases in state and federal courts, including in cases concerning access to government institutions.