Attorney General Brown Demands Public Disclosure of $8 Billion Prison Plan
SAN FRANCISCO – California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today filed a motion in federal court demanding public disclosure of Federal Receiver J. Clark Kelso’s $8 billion prison construction plan.
“If public money is being spent, the public has the right to know how it’s going to be spent,” said Attorney General Brown. “To date, the proposed $8 billion medical upgrade for California’s prisons has not been shared with the public. The people of California are entitled to see for themselves whether or not the plan meets constitutional minimums or instead goes way beyond what the Constitution requires under the Eighth Amendment, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment.”
The Receiver’s plan for prison facility construction is a 917-page document containing information on the layout, design and amenities of the seven prison healthcare facilities the Receiver seeks to build. The Attorney General contends that only 23 pages of the 917-page document fall within the terms of the protective secrecy order granted by the court earlier in the proceedings.
The court’s protective order, by its terms, only protects confidential medical records or information that may threaten the safety or security of prison personnel. Specifically, the protective order covers “Department of Corrections’ records that identify any inmate or parolee or that are designated by defendants as threatening prison safety and/or security if disclosed without protective conditions, and which are produced by defendants in informal and/or formal discover in this action.”
The Receiver’s 917-page plan forms the basis for his request to seize $8 billion from the State Treasury to build prison facilities. Attorney General Brown’s motion honors the California Constitutional principle that government is accountable to the people. Article I, Section 3 (b) of the California Constitution declares “The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business…” As the Supreme Court has recognized, “informed public opinion is the most potent of all restraints upon misgovernment,” which is why, as Justice Brandeis so famously said, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”
The Attorney General’s motion is attached.