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Appellate court hearing in PLN's public records suit against CCA

Tennessean, Jan. 1, 2009.
Appellate court hearing in PLN's public records suit against CCA - Tennessean 2009

June 25, 2009

Former inmate argues for release of prison corp.'s records

By Chris Echegaray

The Tennessean

Whether Nashville’s Corrections Corporation of America, a private company that runs state prisons, is equivalent to a governmental entity and should turn over records is in the hands of the State’s Court of Appeals.

Appellate judges heard arguments this morning from CCA’s attorney, Joe Welborn, and civil rights lawyer Andy Clarke, who is representing Alex Friedmann, the prison reform activist requesting the records.

CCA appealed a Chancery Court judge’s ruling last year that stated the for-profit prison operator must follow public records law and open its files for viewing.

From the start, CCA’s argument has been that allowing access to some of their records will set a bad precedent with other private companies who contract with the state. Welborn says CCA does only 10 percent of its business in Tennessee and the company is not a state agency.

In the lawsuit, Friedmann, a former inmate with CCA, is requesting records of audits by state and local agencies, every lawsuit, claim and legal action taken against them, settlement agreements, judgments, databases showing all litigation against CCA and contracts between the state and the company.

"This will tell us how they operate these facilities that are all funded by taxpayer dollars," says Friedmann.