Public defenders try to block TV crew from filming at jail

AP News
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Posted: Sep 25, 2015 5:29 PM

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Public defenders want a court to block a television crew from filming a prison documentary at a Kansas jail, fearing inmates could incriminate themselves.

At the center of the legal dustup is the filming by the MSNBC show "Lockup" at the Sedgwick County Adult Detention Facility. Their crews have been there since Sept. 8 working on a documentary show that profiles life in prison by following inmates' stories as well as those of the prison staff and justice system.

The Sedgwick County Public Defender's Office, the Sedgwick County Conflicts Office and the Death Penalty Defense Unit have joined together seeking a court order prohibiting the television crew from entering the jail to interview or record inmates. Thursday's filing also seeks a court order that the sheriff's department provide copies of releases signed by inmates, the jail's contract with the show's producers and raw footage of what has been recorded to date by "Lockup."

44 Blue Productions referred comment Friday to its public relations firm, which did not immediately return a message.

Sheriff Jeff Easter told the Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/1iAEzmm ) the show will provide positive coverage for the jail and will serve as a recruitment tool for detention deputies.

"Our detention deputies ... never get talked about unless it's something they did wrong and we're getting sued," Easter said.

The sheriff said those who appear on the show must sign a waiver saying they agree to be filmed and inmates have the right not to sign.

Defense attorneys argued in their court filing that clients participating in interviews may be at risk of coercion to sign waivers and say they may have their privacy violated.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com