FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Senator Cardin (D-MD) petitioned to include private prisons within FOIA

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Coalition letter to Sen. Cardin on private prisons FOIA loophole

By Zach Graves, R Street Institute, June 15, 2015

We, the undersigned 20 organizations committed to transparency and open government, write to thank you for your concern with the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as it pertains to non-federal entities that contract with the federal government to hold federal detainees or prisoners.

Almost 20 percent of detainees and prisoners in the federal system are held in private jails or prisons. Tens of thousands more are held in jails or prisons run by local jurisdictions. Despite the fact they are holding people in federal custody under color of federal law, these non-federal entities are not subject to the federal FOIA, and the federal agencies that contract out for jail and prison beds often rely on FOIA Exemption 4 – the business trade secrets exemption – to avoid responding in full to FOIA requests pertaining to privately run facilities.

Read more here.