Vt. lawsuit spotlights privatization versus access

Source: Dave Gram, Associated Press, June 12, 2013

A lawsuit by a Brattleboro publisher and the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont is raising a question about what happens to the idea of access to public records when government services are privatized. Prison Legal News of Brattleboro says it’s been stymied in its efforts to get information about settlements of suits brought by inmates against the Corrections Corporation of America. That private company is doing Vermont state business by housing inmates from Vermont at prisons in Kentucky, Arizona and Indiana….

…Rep. Donna Sweaney, D-Windsor and chairwoman of the House Government Operations Committee, said Wednesday she expects a special review of Vermont’s public records law will include asking what happens to public information when private companies take over government services. “That issue has come up and it hasn’t been resolved,” Sweaney said. “It certainly does present a very interesting case.” Private companies’ records normally are not subject to public inspection the way a government agency’s are, she noted. “But if you’re doing the state’s work with public money, how open should your records be?”…