By Josh Claywell
The LaRue County Detention Center has been found to violate the Open Records Act, according to Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
Cameron’s office said the prison reversed the intent of the Open Records Act by charging excessive fees that did not match the actual costs of the prison, as required by revised Kentucky Law 61.874 (3).
On August 30 of this year, LaRue County resident Matt Tucker requested a copy of the prison commissioner’s account payable / receivable from January 2020 to present. Tucker said his request was not for commercial purposes. In response, the jail said Tucker must pay a fee of $ 127.06 before receiving the files, after which he would be billed separately for postage.
Tucker appealed this decision to AG Cameron.
Under KRS 61.880 (4), a person requesting records can appeal to the Attorney General if he or she believes that “the intent of the law is thwarted by an agency unless he refuses the inspection, including, but without s ‘limit it, the imposition of excessive fees’.
The law provides that a “public body may prescribe reasonable costs for making copies of non-exempt public documents requested for use for non-commercial purposes which shall not exceed the actual cost of reproduction, including the costs of media and any mechanical processing costs incurred by the public body, but not including the cost of required personnel.
Under KRS 61.880 (2) (c), the onus is on the public body to continue its actions. To cope with this burden, Cameron’s office said the prison must justify the costs actually incurred in making the copies of the records requested.
“When asked by this office to do so, the detention center said it was charging an hourly rate for employee time plus 50 cents per page for copies totaling 53 pages,” Cameron’s office said in its report. decision.
This is where the prison authorities failed because of the Open Records Act.
KRS 61.874 (3) prohibits a public body from charging personnel costs for responding to a non-commercial request for documents. On top of that, the Kentucky Court of Appeals says that 10 cents per page is a reasonable copying charge under the law.
“This office has consistently found that any copying charge over 10 cents per page is excessive unless the agency can prove that its actual cost is more than that amount,” Cameron said in the statement.
The ruling concluded that the prison “has failed to demonstrate that its actual cost of reproduction, calculated under KRS 61.874 (3), exceeds 10 cents per page” and that a reasonable charge for copying the 23 pages is $ 2.30.
“… Any charge above this, other than the actual cost of postage to mail the records, is excessive,” the ruling says. “As a result, this office concludes that the detention center has reversed the intent of the law.”
LaRue County District Attorney Kyle Williamson said he had read the decision and asked the jail to comply with it.
“I have reviewed the decision and will advise the prison to respond to the request for files at the price indicated by the attorney general’s office,” Williamson said.