The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office has ruled the Greenup County Detention Center violated the state Open Records act by refusing to grant access to booking information and mug shots to the publisher of a tabloid newspaper.
In a July 30 decision, Assistant Attorney General Amye L. Bensenhaver ruled the GCDC and Jailer Mike Worthington violated the “procedural and substantive requirements” of the act by failing to respond in writing to Jailed Publisher Mark Thompson’s records request within five working days, by denying his request for booking information for all inmates processed at the GCDC between March 30 and April 11 and by failing to include a “statement of specific exemption” explaining why the records were being withheld.
Thompson submitted his request on April 12, according to the ruling. After receiving no response for a week, he phoned Worthington and agreed “to reduce the amount of information” he was requesting. Thompson subsequently received a letter from County Attorney Mike Wilson stating he would evaluate the request and respond to him within two weeks.
Thompson waited until June 11 for a response, then filed an appeal with the attorney general, the ruling states.
After being notified of Thompson’s request, the GCDC objected to his request on the grounds it was vague, overly broad, required information not covered by the Open Records Act and made no arrangements for payment. But Bensenhaver found those reasons “legally unsupportable.”
Any lingering doubt regarding the accessibility about the accessibility of jail booking records is “surely dispelled” by the existence of Kentucky JailTracker, a corrections-management system that provides instant online information about inmates, including mug shots, Bensenhaver wrote.
Fifty-nine Kentucky jails currently utilize JailTracker, but the GCDC isn’t among them.
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2654.