I'm working on an article that led me to file an open records request with the Georgia Department of Corrections. An attorney at the department is working with me, and it's been a relatively positive experience.
But check out this section of Georgia state code:
§ 42-8-40. Confidentiality of papers; exemption from subpoena; declassification :
All reports, files, records, and papers of whatever kind relative to the state-wide probation system are declared to be confidential and shall be available only to the probation system officials and to the judge handling a particular case. They shall not be subject to process of subpoena. However, the commissioner may by written order declassify any such records.
That's not from the open records law, which is in a different chapter, but from a section that deals specifically with the Department of Corrections. Even so, it's essentially a large exemption in Georgia Open Records law.
In fact, in 9 years as a reporter, I don't know that I've ever seen such a broadly written code section. The use of both the word "all" and the phrase "of whatever kind" in one sentence makes the section's intent pretty clear.
Now, to paraphrase Bart Simpson, what I don't know could fill a warehouse. For good or ill, there is a reason for this law, but I don't know what it is. The attorney at the department, Rhoda McCabe, told me it predates Georgia open records laws.
I should also note that Ms. McCabe sent me some (but not all) of what I asked for, despite the fact that she probably could have denied my request in full based on 42-8-40.
Any attorneys/government types reading who are familiar with this section of Georgia code?