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October 3, 2000

Ms. Regina T. Grimes
Office of the General Counsel
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 13401
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711

OR2000-3792

Dear Ms. Grimes:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 139748.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (the "department") received a request for thirty-four categories of information related to a facility referred to as "Travis House." You indicate that you have released most of the responsive information to the requestor. However, you claim that some responsive information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.103, and 552.108 of the Government Code. You have provided a representative sample of the information which you seek to withhold.(1) We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.101 of the Government Code protects "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Section 552.101 encompasses confidentiality provisions such as section 508.313 of the Government Code. Section 508.313 of the Government Code accords confidentiality to the records of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Open Records Decision No. 190 at 2 (1978); see also Attorney General Opinion H-427 (1974); Open Records Decision No. 33 (1974). Section 508.313 provides:

All information obtained and maintained, including a victim protest letter or other correspondence, a victim impact statement, a list of inmates eligible for release on parole, and an arrest record of an inmate, is confidential and privileged if the information relates to:

(1) an inmate of the institutional division subject to release on parole, release to mandatory supervision, or executive clemency;

(2) a releasee; or

(3) a person directly identified in any proposed plan of release for an inmate.

You inform us that a portion of the submitted materials are copies of pages included in release plan records obtained and maintained by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. You further attest that all of the submitted information is obtained and maintained by the Board of Pardons and Paroles and that it relates to "an inmate of the institutional division subject to release on parole, release to mandatory supervision, or executive clemency" and to "a person directly identified in any proposed plan of release for an inmate." From your representations and our review of the submitted information we conclude that this information is made confidential by Government Code section 508.313 and must be withheld under section 552.101 of the Government Code. Since this discussion disposes of this request, your arguments raised under other sections of the Government Code will not be addressed.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id . 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records;2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408,411 (Tex. App.--Austin 1992, no writ).

Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to the General Services Commission at 512/475-2497.

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

Michael Jay Burns
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

MJB/er

Ref: ID# 139748

Encl: Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Robert Alden
Bracewell & Patterson L.L.P.
Attorneys at Law
111 Congress Avenue, Suite 2300
Austin, Texas 78701-4043
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. We assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.
 

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