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Officials Want Reporters to Have More Access to State Prisons, Inmates

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

A national media expert says other states give reporters more access to specific prison inmates than California does, and some say things need to change here to shed light on a significant area of taxpayer spending.  From Sacramento, Jenny O’Mara  reports.

Jim Ewert with the California Newspaper Publishers Association says it’s cumbersome to interview a specific inmate. He testified at the state Capitol that getting permission from a prisoner and getting on their visitor list is just the beginning: 

Ewert: Then arrange on a mutually agreed upon - to see their loved ones.

The Society of Professional Journalists says 90 percent of states allow reporters easier access to specific inmates.  But Debra Tate, sister of murdered actress Sharon Tate, says there’s the victim’s side.

Tate: What if you had to listen to your perpetrator to sway a public mind.

State corrections officials have echoed those concerns.  For KPBS News, I'm Jenny O'Mara.

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