GA Department Of Corrections Sued Over Open Records Act Violations

The Southern Center for Human Rights has filed suit against the Georgia Department of Corrections, alleging violations of the state’s open records act.  The suit alleges that the department is placing unreasonable burdens and costs to the SCHR in response to open records requests.  Says the SCHR:

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.

Via press release, SCHR attorney Sarah Geraghty states “putting a quarter million dollar price tag on public records undermines public confidence in the GDC at a time when confidence has already been shaken by recent homicides and serious security lapses at Hays State Prison.”

The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of Fulton County, is Southern Center for Human Rights and RaHonda MacClain v. Brian Owens, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Corrections, Civil Action Number 2013CV229436, and has been assigned to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter.  The full complaint can be read at


  1. gchidi says:

    I had something like this pop up while I was a Georgia Tech student in 2009. I wanted to do an open records search on the college president’s email, looking for references to the police reaction to a series of attacks on students. They said the bill would be $8000 — the cost of 20 hours of work for the lowest-paid staffer who could sort the messages: the president himself.

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