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Abstract

On June 13, 1997, Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19,1995. The bombing resulted in the deaths of 168 people and the wounding of over 500 more. McVeigh successfully petitioned U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch to put an end to his appeals and expedite his execution. At midnight on February 16, 2001 McVeigh let pass his deadline to petition President George W. Bush for clemency. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection on May 16, 2001 at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. Only eight seats are available in the Terre Haute facility for witnesses on behalf of the victims of the bombing. However, approximately 250 survivors of the bombing and family members of those who died have asked for permission to witness the execution. In order to accommodate all the victims and their families, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is considering a closed-circuit broadcast of the execution. McVeigh, however, claims that broadcasting his execution only on closed-circuit television raises fundamental equal access concerns, and has therefore asked that his execution be publicly broadcast. The Bureau of Prisons quickly rejected his request with the statement. It hasn't been considered. It won't happen. McVeigh's request has once again raised the issue of public executions in America. In particular, the request has raised the question of whether or not the death penalty should be broadcast via television into the living rooms of the American public. This article will discuss the history of public executions in America, the arguments for and against public executions, and the reasons why inmates should have the option of dying in public or behind closed doors.