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Panel nixes records proposal from DOC

Nov 8, 2013 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

LARAMIE -- A legislative committee on Thursday rejected a proposal from the Wyoming Department of Corrections to change state law to specify that it could deny outright some public requests to inspect records dealing with investigations and security.

The Joint Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 10-to-3 against sponsoring the bill in next year's legislative session. The committee met at the University of Wyoming College of Law in Laramie.

Corrections Department Director Bob Lampert said the agency sees frequent requests from inmates seeking information about security measures and investigations at its facilities.

Lampert and Deputy Director Steve Lindly said allowing the agency to deny such records request would be better than taking staff time to heavily redact them.

Lindly has said that in some cases, so much must be blacked out that the remainder of the document makes no sense.

"We have a number of requests from inmates that are trying to get information on other inmates," Lampert said after the committee rejected the bill. "The primary reason was to be able to restrict their access."

Lampert said his agency takes the position that it has authority under existing state law to deny access to documents concerning security matters. But he said there have been differing legal opinions on the issues.

"So it would have just clarified when we have the ability to restrict or redact information and when we don't," Lampert said.

He said he didn't believe the bill would have an effect on efforts by the media or groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union to track prison conditions.

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