Open Records Laws Only Apply to Some Prisons



I was reading Pierce Greenberg's story in The City Paper about Alex Friedmann, who is battling CCA in court for access to prison records — the same kinds of records a prison run by the state would have to disclose. I had no idea this was an issue — that private prisons would argue that they don't have to meet the same disclosure standards as public prisons. But look here:

The Court of Appeals ruled in Friedmann’s favor for a second time two weeks ago — affirming a Chancery Court ruling that ordered CCA to give Friedmann settlement agreements stemming from legal complaints against the company. CCA attempted to argue that the documents were protected “attorney work product.”

But Friedmann expects CCA — which brought in $436.9 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2012 — will continue the court fight.

The whole interview with Friedmann is really fascinating and it's worth your time to read. But this immediately made me wonder if we could run into similar problems with other private entities providing public services. Charter schools, for instance. If they're not quite public, are they bound by the same rules as public schools for making information available to the media and interested tax payers? If CCA manages to eventually convince some appeals court that they can provide public services while enjoying a private company's opaqueness, the implications go beyond not being able to learn what's going on in our prisons.

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