Legal Issues

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
texas



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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  • identicon
    ryuugami, 22 Aug 2017 @ 7:21am

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ThatFatMan (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 7:33am

    I've been told that a work year (at least in the Fed. Govt) works out to 2087 hours. For one person. So 3000 hours is nearly 1.5 years! and 61000 hours...that's nearly someone's 30 year career!!! Absurd doesn't even begin to describe those estimates.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      stderric (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 7:46am

      Re:

      You gotta frame it positively: it's just a single decade for a dedicated 3-person team.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Machin Shin, 22 Aug 2017 @ 9:00am

        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')

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 9:40am

      Re:

      52 weeks per year * 40 hours per week = 2080 hours per year. No idea where that 7 comes from, and very few people actually work 52 weeks per year - most get at least 2 weeks vacation, which means 50 weeks is more normal which then means 2000 hours per year for a typical full-time employee.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 9:53am

        52 weeks is only 364 days, and the count is of working
        hours regardless of who or how many people did the work.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Machin Shin, 22 Aug 2017 @ 10:04am

        Re: Re:

        "typical full-time employee" HAHAHA. You forget this wouldn't be a "typical full-time employee" It would be a government employee, so lets not forget that they get to take off another 3 weeks worth of holidays that no one has even heard of.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 10:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes, yes. I'm also discounting that 7 of every 8 hours is spent surfing for porn. :)

          My point was that if you want to give a hand-waving average hours per year work for a full-time employee, 2087 is a weird figure. Just say 2000.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            R.H. (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 9:37pm

            Re: Re: Re: 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).

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              JoeCool (profile), 23 Aug 2017 @ 4:23pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Did they figure leap-seconds in that as well? :D

              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.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 24 Aug 2017 @ 8:37am

                They are referring only to theoretical hours of work, not
                to who or how many people might be doing it; and, of course,
                the number they quoted is an obvious lie to excuse noncompliance.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 3:08pm

      Re:

      I guess prisons are still using the ol' brick slab system for permanent long term storage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    stderric (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 7:41am

    Isn't TD supposed to be posting more stuff related to free speech?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 8:46am

    Does anybody else think that this response alone indicates that they have a serious problem in their prisons?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christenson, 22 Aug 2017 @ 10:03am

    Wrong Headline!

    Tim Cushing, your headline writers must be on strike...

    Texas Agency Says It Needs $1 Million To Complete Prison Sexual Assault on Open Records Law

    There, that's better!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 10:25am

    Public incarceration in a Private Corps facility

    And what do you get?
    Paying HOW much per prisoner..
    Contracts that say, requirements of 95%+ filled, facility or they can FINE the state for NOT filling the facility.
    Paper work thats UNSORTED??
    Facilities Over STUFFED with minor crimes like Smoking Weed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chuck, 22 Aug 2017 @ 11:38am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 11:55am

    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.

    The problem with prison rape is completely out of hand, and the Texas DCJ wants to cover it up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Aug 2017 @ 2:27pm

      Re:

      Beat me to it, I was just about to post how there was a third option: They have massive amounts of sexual abuse going on and they really don't want anyone looking into the records to confirm it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 22 Aug 2017 @ 6:12pm

    Texas Department of Criminal Justice says, "We need $1m or...
    drop your pants"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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