Friday, November 20, 2009

Are jail visitor sign-in logs public documents?

Does the public have the right to inspect jail visitor sign-in logs in California? I've been told no, but seen court rulings in other states that lead me to think this may be inaccurate.

The right to inspect jail visitor sign-in logs would come from California’s Public Records Act, which provides, generally speaking, that writings created or used by government agencies in California are presumptively open to public inspection and copying unless a specific exemption of the PRA applies. If the “no” you refer to was in response to your request under the PRA, then the agency should have given you the basis for the denial, which would be a good place to start in evaluating the denial.

Possibly a jail would claim that disclosing records showing who has visited a particular inmate would constitute an invasion of the constitutional right to privacy sufficient to outweigh the public’s interest in reviewing such records. Although there is considerable judicial debate in California as to the right of privacy that inmates and their visitors have in their conversations, I am not aware of any authority as to whether the fact of the visit itself should be considered confidential. Read more

Location Oakland, Ca - Private Investigator