N.Y. Court Casts Sunlight on Prison Reform Reports

Reports measuring the "progress, or regress" two prisons in Erie County, N.Y., have made since a 2011 settlement with the Justice Department face disclosure, the 2nd Circuit ruled Monday.

Unconstitutional conditions in the state prisons prompted Attorney General Eric Holder to file a 2009 complaint in Buffalo against Erie County. Officials "repeatedly and consistently disregarded known or serious risks of harm to inmates," including sexual abuse from guards, excessive force, infectious diseases and placing prisoners in cells with "multiple means for committing suicide," the lawsuit said.

Two years later, Erie agreed to extensive reforms outlined in a 40-page settlement dismissing the case. The terms called for two compliance officers looking into mental health and medical issues to file sealed biannual reports of their prisons' progress with the court. The New York Civil Liberties Union sought to uncover these documents in 2012. Continue>>>