Monday, December 12, 2011
Private Prisons Must Comply with Public Records Laws
Well at least in Tennessee and Florida, they do. In most jurisdictions, private prisons, as private companies, are not subject to public records or FOIA laws, which has presented a tremendous obstacle to members of the public who wish to exert some semblance of oversight on the system. But in a recent ruling in Tennessee, it was held that CCA must comply with public records requests as must any agency performing an inherently governmental function. This is a tremendous victory for advocates like myself, who recognize that the industry is in dire need of effective oversight and that it has skirted the bounds of accountability for decades by continually avoiding turning over records related to its operations. CCA will almost undoubtedly appeal the decision, but for the time being, I want to savor this victory.