Texas Agency Says It Needs $1 Million To Hand Over Records On Prison Sexual Assault

from the gold-plated-middle-finger dept

Here we go again. Want to keep citizens away from their requested public records? Do what you can to ensure they can’t afford it.

Nathanael King sent a request via Muckrock to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He was seeking records on all investigations of alleged sexual abuse in Texas prisons. Either the problem with prison sexual abuse is completely out of hand or the Texas DCJ really really really wants to keep King from seeing these investigative records.

Our request for investigations of sexual assault in Texas correctional facilities since 2013 returned a price tag of $1,132,024.30 from the Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), which says there are more than 260,000 pages of responsive documents that would require more than 61,000 hours to process.

Considering the agency had pretty much already told King it wouldn’t be turning over a ton of info thanks to a wide variety of exemptions, the cost estimate seems completely unhinged from reality. Obviously, very few private parties have a million in cash laying around for public records fees. I’m sure this is what the DCJ is counting on. A great majority of detailed info will be stripped and the agency has agreed to turn over only “basic information” on 2,000 cases. Apparently each case averages around 130 pages requiring nearly 15 minutes per to “process.”

All told, the Department suggests it will take nearly 3,000 hours just to search for responsive documents. From there, it’s on to the pricey processing and a fee request that would make Texas oil magnates balk. To its credit, the Texas Attorney General suggested it might be less expensive to ask another agency entirely for the information King is seeking.

The Office of the Attorney General recommended filing with the Prison Rape Elimination Act offices, who subsequently requested a far more reasonable, though still costly, $551.39 for copies of their division level audits of the Safe Prisons/PREA program since 2016.

Safe Prisons Program Management Office records report that in 2016 alone, the OIG opened 238 sexual assault cases in state-run facilities and another 4 in private prisons.

Of course, $500 only gets you a little more than a year of reports that only cover Inspector General investigations, rather than every investigation opened by state prisons for the last four years. The Department can’t seriously be thinking of allocating 61,000 hours to this task so the fee estimate is mainly there to discourage King from pursuing this request any further.

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Comments on “Texas Agency Says It Needs $1 Million To Hand Over Records On Prison Sexual Assault”

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ryuugami says:

I got some very important information from “we have so many rape cases under our supervision it will cost a million dollars just to check the paperwork”.

That information tells me that every single person in the entire department should be sacked, and maybe sent to trial, since they are obviously incompetent and likely malicious.

If they disagree with that conclusion, they just need to show the proof…

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re:

The sad part is that I think you just nailed their plan if he does somehow come up with the money. They will grab the 3 most hated guys in the office and tell them to get to work.

That of course is only if they don’t go with hiring one high school drop out and telling him to enjoy his career blacking out endless pages of records. (Bonus listed in job search is ‘lifetime supply of permanent markers’)

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

He got 2087 hours from the US Office of Personnel Management.

That website explains that the extra 7 hours is there to deal with leap days that would otherwise throw off the hourly rates of salaried employees as averaged over a twenty-eight year period (with the exception of non-leap year century years like 1800, 1900, 2100, etc. our calendar cycles every twenty-eight years).

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Did they figure leap-seconds in that as well? 😀

In any case, that’s silly because they’re figuring the average for TWENTY EIGHT YEARS… what, the guy never got a promotion? He never quit to work somewhere else? He never got fired for surfing for porn 7 out of every 8 hours? That’s why my figure is a general value and doesn’t average decades while accounting for leap-nanoseconds.

Chuck says:

Contract it out

Contract out the document production to me. Just cover the cast of big black markers, and I’ll randomly redact as much of the page as you want for just $0.10 per page! I can randomly block stuff out WAY faster than 130 pages per 15 minutes! I’ll have this done for you in no time at all*!

(*Well, compared to the prison sentences for low-level possession offenders, anyway.)

I mean, that’s what you do with the prisons themselves, already – contract the work out to the most expensive bidder and/or biggest campaign contributor so they can do a poor job of getting somewhere near the requirements you placed on them.

So why not let me do it cheaper?!

Oh, right, because I can’t fund your next campaign. Sorry, my bad.

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