|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
July 14, 2000
Ms. Regina T. Grimes
Dear Ms. Grimes:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 137112.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (the "department") received a request for information in the files of the Parole Division that relates to the requestor's client and to an individual whose name has been confused with that of the client. You state that the Parole Division has no information pertaining to the client. You inform us that the department has made responsive information relating to a particular offender available to the requestor. You have submitted other responsive information that you claim is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.108, and 552.111 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the information you submitted.(1)
Section 552.101 excepts from required public disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Gov't Code § 552.101. You claim that the submitted information is confidential under section 552.101 in conjunction with section 508.313 of the Government Code.(2) Chapter 508 of the Government Code pertains to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Section 508.313 provides in relevant part:
(a) 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 [of the Department of Criminal Justice] 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.
Gov't Code § 508.313(a); see also Gov't Code § 508.052(a) (permitting access to department's computerized and printed records to be provided to Board of Pardons and Paroles).(3)
You represent to this office that the submitted information represents records of the department's Parole Division that were obtained and are maintained for the Board of Pardons and Paroles. You also inform us that the information 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." More specifically, you state that the offender in question is an absconder who, "[p]rior to becoming a releasee . . . was also identified in a proposed plan of release for an inmate." Based on your representations and our review of the submitted records, we conclude that the information in question is confidential under section 508.313 of the Government Code. Accordingly, the submitted information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code and must not be released.
As we are able to make a determination under section 552.101 of the Government Code, we need not consider your claims under sections 552.108 and 552.111. 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).
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.
James W. Morris, III
Ref: ID# 137112
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Timothy A. Hootman
1. We presume that the representative sample of records that you submitted is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. This letter ruling does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the department to withhold, any other requested records whose contents are substantially different than those of the records that you submitted. See Gov't Code § 552.301(e)(1)(D); Open Records Decision Nos. 499 at 6 (1988), 497 at 4 (1988).
2. Statutory confidentiality under section 552.101 generally requires language that expressly makes certain information confidential or states that it shall not be released to the public. See Open Records Decision No. 478 at 2 (1987).
3. A "releasee" is a person released on parole or to mandatory supervision. See Gov't Code § 508.001(9).
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