Salvation Army must release probation records
FLORIDA–In a mid-June decision, the state court of appeals in Daytona Beach ruled that the Salvation Army must release records it maintains on probationers.
The court held that the Salvation Army Corrections Department, which is under contract with Marion County to perform misdemeanor probation functions such as job placement, monitoring and enforcing probation conditions and maintaining reports on violations, actually “took over” the county’s role as provider of probation services. Thus, the Salvation Army was acting “on behalf” of a state agency and is subject the requirements of the open records law, according to the court.
Vanessa Stanfield sought and was denied access to the records of two probationers with whom she was involved in a lawsuit stemming from an automobile accident. Stanfield filed suit in 1996 to compel the release of the records in the circuit court in Ocala, but the court dismissed the suit.
The Florida public records law provides that all records “made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency” must be open to the public.
The court of appeals held that if the records were maintained by the county, they would be public. Because the county delegated the duties of providing probation services to the Salvation Army, the records the Salvation Army maintains are also public. (Stanfield v. Salvation Army; Appellant’s Counsel: Richard Carnell, Ocala)