When a state agency denies a state senator’s request for public records, something is terribly broken.
Senator Jacob Candelaria, in his capacity as an attorney working with inmates and families, made a public records request on January 5 to the state Department of Corrections to obtain contracts and agreements with the state regarding a new policy in which a private company photocopies prison mail and delivers copies. to detainees.
The policy started this year; it is intended to reduce the flow of illegal drugs amid rising inmate overdoses.
More than eight months later, Candelaria says he has never received so much as a confirmation of his request under the State Public Records Inspection Act.
The law states: “If inspection is not permitted within three business days, the custodian must explain in writing when the records will be available for inspection or when the public body will respond to the request.” It makes exceptions for things like trade secrets, tactical response plans, and law enforcement records that reveal confidential sources and methods — none of which apparently apply here.
So Candelaria, an Albuquerque independent, filed a lawsuit in state district court in late July, alleging that corrections violated the IPRA. His lawsuit focuses on allegations that the state failed to turn over public documents, not the mail policy, which detainees and families say violates their rights.
Meanwhile, Candelaria’s lawsuit seeks damages of $100 a day – a total that is believed to exceed $21,000 so far. The taxpayers are responsible if he wins.
Corrections owes to Candelaria and to the public, who pays his note, an explanation and the documents. His intransigence is inexplicable and potentially costly for taxpayers.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned because it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than that of the editors.
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