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Judge says private prisons are subject to open records laws

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  1. Freedom of Information
A Tennessee judge ruled on Tuesday that a private prison company based there is subject to public records laws, according to The…

A Tennessee judge ruled on Tuesday that a private prison company based there is subject to public records laws, according to The Associated Press.

An editor for the monthly magazine Prison Legal News sued Corrections Corporation of America earlier this year for access to legal settlements and complaints against it — documents which the company had refused to hand over. Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman found that CCA is essentially like a government agency, and so subject to open record laws, because "the Tennessee constitution makes the maintenance of prisons and keeping of prisoners a state function," The AP reported.

A company attorney told the wire service an appeal is possible.

The First Amendment Center reported on the Tennessee suit last week in an article examining the legal grey area in which private prisons fall on public records issues.  Gene Policinski, executive director of The First Amendment Center, told The AP it’s too soon to tell what effect the Tennessee ruling might have nationwide.