Thursday, April 4, 2013

Corrections department slapped with lawsuit after failing to disclose records about inmate deaths, faulty locks

Posted By on Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 5:08 PM

According to the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Georgia Department of Corrections told the legal nonprofit and the mother of an inmate who was killed while in custody at Trion's Hays State Prison to pay $250,000 - and wait 31,000 business hours - before handing over public documents. The Center has filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court - which you can also read here - to speed up the process and lower that amount. Says SCHR in a release (emphasis not added):

The Complaint alleges that GDC failed to produce public records regarding deaths and security lapses at Hays State Prison and further demanded exorbitant and unreasonable fees for the production of public documents. Specifically, the GDC requested $80,000 before producing public records regarding two inmates; $90,666 before producing records regarding broken locks at Hays State Prison; and a further $80,000 for documents pertaining to security audits.

In total, the GDC demanded over a quarter million dollars for a limited number of records relating to recent deaths and alleged security lapses at the prison. The GDC's inexplicable and outrageous claim that it would take over 31,000 business hours to fulfill these requests - or the equivalent of fifteen years of work for a person working 8 hours per day, 50 weeks per year - is patently unreasonable and in violation of Georgia's open government laws.

SCHR's trying to better understand what's happening behind the barbed-wire fences at the northwest Georgia prison. In its lawsuit, the nonprofit notes that four Hays inmates have been killed since December 2012. In addition, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press has reported that administrators allegedly tipped off prisoners prior to cell searches to improve scores on security audits.

CL contacted the department of corrections for comment and left a message asking about SCHR's claims. Rashad Hollis, a department spokesman, said in a voicemail response that the agency does not comment on active lawsuits.

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