AP seeks to protect access to records of death row inmate

Dec 8, 2022, 8:45 PM | Updated: Dec 9, 2022, 11:27 am
FILE - This booking photo provided by the Tennessee Department of Correction shows death row inmate...

FILE - This booking photo provided by the Tennessee Department of Correction shows death row inmate Henry Hodges. The Associated Press has filed a motion seeking to protect public access to records detailing the treatment of Hodges, the Tennessee death row inmate who cut off his penis while on suicide watch. (Tennessee Department of Correction via AP, File)

(Tennessee Department of Correction via AP, File)

              FILE - This booking photo provided by the Tennessee Department of Correction shows death row inmate Henry Hodges. The Associated Press has filed a motion seeking to protect public access to records detailing the treatment of Hodges, the Tennessee death row inmate who cut off his penis while on suicide watch. (Tennessee Department of Correction via AP, File)
            
              FILE - This booking photo provided by the Tennessee Department of Correction shows death row inmate Henry Hodges. The Associated Press has filed a motion seeking to protect public access to records detailing the treatment of Hodges, the Tennessee death row inmate who cut off his penis while on suicide watch. (Tennessee Department of Correction via AP, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Associated Press has filed a motion seeking to protect public access to records detailing the treatment of a Tennessee death row inmate who cut off his penis while on suicide watch.

Henry Hodges has accused the state of cruel and unusual punishment for keeping him tied down with restraints on a thin vinyl mattress over a concrete slab after his return from the hospital, where surgeons reattached his penis. He was immobilized — at one point for six hours straight — despite discharge orders from Vanderbilt University Medical Center that he avoid sitting for more than two hours at a time, according to court filings, which don’t mention whether that also includes lying down.

Hodges ended up having to return to the hospital to have his penis surgically removed after necrosis set in, according to filings. The state maintains that Hodges was not mistreated and that he has received appropriate care.

Attorneys for the state are seeking a protective order to prevent the public disclosure of records that include any video of Hodges taken inside the prison. That includes footage from the cell where Hodges severed his penis with a razor and the cell where he was held in restraints after discharge.

“The disclosure of any such photographs, videos, or other recordings could pose a severe security risk to both inmates and staff,” according to an affidavit by Ernest Lewis, the associate warden of security at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institute. Specifically, the recordings might show the interior layout of the prison, including windows and doors, Lewis said.

Hodges opposes the protective order. In a court filing Wednesday, his attorneys claim the state’s motion is an attempt to “hide their bad behavior from the public.” The document describes one episode in graphic detail.

“These videos depict Mr. Hodges in 4-point restraints, laying in an obviously painful spread eagle position with nothing but a black cloth thrown over the middle of his body,” according to the objection filed by Kelly Henry, an assistant federal public defender. “In the video, Mr. Hodges is left to defecate on himself and lie in his own feces instead of being offered an opportunity to go to the toilet.”

“The overwhelmingly horrific nature of these videos is the exact reason why Defendants want to hide them from the public under a protective order,” the objection reads.

It includes a declaration from Ben Leonard, an investigator with the federal public defender’s office. Leonard states that much of what the state seeks to protect, such as the layout of the prison or location of security cameras, is already public on the Tennessee Department of Correction’s own YouTube channel.

The AP on Thursday filed a motion to intervene in the case to protect public access to the records that document Hodges’ treatment. The AP wants the court to consider its motion at a Monday hearing, which Hodges supports but the state opposes.

The state cannot simply claim a broad security risk, but must show that specific harms would come from disclosing the records, Paul McAdoo, an attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press who is representing the AP, wrote to the court. The fact that the defendants are public officials and that the case is of public interest also weigh against granting a protective order, according to the memorandum.

“Widespread news coverage of Mr. Hodges’ hunger strike, mental health crisis, and treatment by correctional staff underline the compelling public interest in his case, in particular,” the memorandum states.

A Nashville jury in 1992 convicted Hodges of murdering telephone repairman Ronald Bassett two years earlier and sentenced him to death. He also was sentenced to 40 years in prison for robbing Bassett.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
16 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Lawmakers in GOP states target medical care for trans kids

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican attacks on gender affirming medical care for young people continued Wednesday in several conservative states that are among more than two dozen considering similar bans nationwide. Lawmakers in Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota considered bills Wednesday that would prohibit gender affirming treatments, like the use of puberty-blocking drugs and hormones, […]
16 hours ago
FILE - This combination of images provided by the Memphis Police Department shows, from top row fro...
Associated Press

Jury may not hear cops’ admissions in Tyre Nichols’ beating

It was a stunning revelation: One of the officers involved in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols took a cellphone photo of the bloodied and handcuffed man and shared it with five other people. The disclosure was part of the Memphis Police Department’s request to the state that the five former officers charged with murder […]
16 hours ago
A man takes photos as a black plume rises over East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of a controlled de...
Associated Press

Residents can return after air deemed safe from derailment

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — Evacuated residents can safely return to the Ohio village where crews burned toxic chemicals after a train derailed five days ago near the Pennsylvania state line, East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick said Wednesday. Authorities in East Palestine had warned that burning vinyl chloride that was in five of the […]
16 hours ago
FILE - The Netflix logo is shown in this photo from the company's website on Feb. 2, 2023, in New Y...
Associated Press

Netflix steps up its effort to get paid for account sharing

Netflix has a plan to deal with rampant account sharing: a program that lets subscribers pay extra to share their account with people outside their household. The streaming giant introduced paid sharing in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain on Wednesday. It was previously rolled out in multiple markets in Latin America. While Netflix won’t […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
AP seeks to protect access to records of death row inmate