Judge sides with ACLU in fight with Florida Corrections over more prison data

“FDOC argues because it provided 9 million pieces of data, it did not violate the public records law by failing to provide access to other responsive, existing data."

Judge sides with ACLU in fight with Florida Corrections over more prison data
PHOTO VIA ADOBE IMAGES

A Leon County circuit judge has backed the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida in a public-records dispute with the state Department of Corrections about data used in calculating tentative release dates of inmates.

Judge John Cooper last week granted partial summary judgment to the ACLU in a lawsuit filed in 2019.

The ACLU has sought information from the department as part of an effort to propose changes to reduce what it describes as “over-incarceration” and racial disparities in people who are imprisoned.

“However, to propose meaningful legislation, the ACLU needs to better understand the current prison population, FDOC’s (the Department of Corrections’) calculations of tentative release dates and how amending legislation may affect them,” the civil-liberties group said in a June motion.

The ACLU said the department provided four data sets but did not provide five additional categories of information used to calculate tentative release dates. In his ruling last week, Cooper rejected a series of arguments raised by the department.

“FDOC argues because it provided 9 million pieces of data, it did not violate the public records law by failing to provide access to other responsive, existing data,” Cooper wrote in part of the ruling. “Yet, providing access to some public records, but not others, still violates the Constitution and the law with respect to those outstanding records.”

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