In this week’s FOIA round-up, calendars and emails reveal communication between Trump administration officials and corporate executives in a mining project, a contract with a private pretrial services firm raises questions about the role of for-profit companies in the legal system, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention records reveal that rates of detainees with criminal records has decreased in the past couple of years. Also, a Supreme Court ruling is bad news for people seeking government records pertaining to private entities.
Meeting calendars, emails raise ethics questions in Minnesota mining project
The Obama administration had declined to renew mining leases in Minnesota, but, according to emails and calendars obtained by the New York Times via FOIA, the Trump administration reversed that decision after discussions with mining company executives about a proposed mining project in northeastern Minnesota.
Read the full story from the New York Times here.
Contract reveals profit motive of legal system in Cleveland County
Cleveland County pays a private company up to $365,000 a year to oversee the area’s pretrial services, according to a recent contract between Cleveland County and Cleveland County Pretrial Services obtained by The Appeal under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. The contract points to a stark problem with the role of private companies in the criminal legal systems in some states, where company profits are inextricably linked to pretrial supervision or detention in private prisons.
Read The Appeal’s full story here.
Rates of ICE detainees with criminal records decrease under Trump Administration, records show
While the number of people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased in recent years, the proportion of detainees convicted of felonies has dropped, according to an analysis of ICE records obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. TRAC’s analysis refutes President Donald Trump’s claims that the people his administration is detaining are largely people with criminal records.
TRAC made the ICE detention data publicly available here.
Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to restrict access to public records
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a crucial decision for public records seekers this week, ruling in a 6-3 decision that when private entities submit documents to federal agencies with the stipulation that the documents remain private, the agency is not required to disclose the documents if requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
The case, Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, involved the Argus Leader, a newspaper in South Dakota, which was requesting information about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); that information included commercial details about grocery stores.
“Henceforth, a private-sector submitter of information to an agency will only need to show their efforts to keep the information private and the assurances they received from the agency that it would keep the information from the public,” according to an analysis from SCOTUSblog.
Read the full Supreme Court opinion and accompanying dissent below.
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