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Jail must hand over prisoner complaints and worker records

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Jail must hand over prisoner complaints and worker records

  • The state attorney general issued an opinion saying that a detention center must release disciplinary and complaint records to newspaper.

June 30, 2003 — The Kentucky attorney general ruled June 17 that Steve Kellam, the jailer at the Grant County Detention Center, violated Kentucky’s open-records law when he refused to release records to The Kentucky Enquirer, the Kentucky edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The newspaper sought grievances made by prisoners, disciplinary complaints made against jail employees and worker employment records after five former inmates sued the facility for violating their civil rights.

The jail should have given the newspaper the information they sought within three days from its April 11 request, assistant attorney general Ryan H. Halloran wrote in his June 17 opinion. Halloran also ordered that the jail release disciplinary and other employee records.

Halloran dismissed claims made by the detention center that releasing the information would violate the rights of both guards and inmates.

“It should be pointed out that this office has previously decided that educational and training backgrounds of public employees, their disciplinary records, and complaints about their conduct on the public payroll must be disclosed under the Open Records Act,” he wrote.

“I applaud the Attorney General standing behind this state’s open records law,” said Jim Hannah, the Enquirer reporter who requested the information.

(The Kentucky Enquirer v. Jailer, Grant County Detention Center, 03-ORD-131) GS

© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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