Behind the Curtain

Robin Konrad, former DPIC Director of Research and Special Projects, joins Executive Director Robert Dunham and current Director of Research and Special Projects Ngozi Ndulue to discuss DPIC’s November 2018 report, Behind the Curtain: Secrecy and the Death Penalty in the United States. Konrad, the lead author of the report, gives an overview of the recent expansion of secrecy in the use of the death penalty. She explains the ubiquity of secrecy policies, saying “everybody has some type of secrecy provision” related to the sources of execution drugs or the way executions are carried out. The episode also includes a discussion of the consequences of secrecy, including the ways that it undermines democratic principles of open government and hides problematic state practices. “When we’re looking at the government…for the people, by the people, that the people should know what is going on and states shouldn’t be hiding information about the most serious punishment that they carry out against their citizens,” Konrad says. “I don’t see how in any principled system of justice, you can sustain a system that basically is grounded in secrecy, grounded in hiding what’s going on from the public. You have to be open, you have to be honest, you have to be transparent, you have to be trustworthy,” adds Dunham.