INDIANAPOLIS — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed multiple public records requests with Gov. Eric Holcomb and President Donald Trump’s administration, seeking information on what the federal Bureau of Prisons and Indiana Departments of Corrections knew about the effects of COVID-19 on prisons and the communities surrounding them.
The ACLU of Indiana filed the public records requests in coordination with the national ACLU office and more than 30 affiliates, according to a press release.
For weeks, the ACLU has pushed for some people in jails or prisons to be released to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in those populations. Holcomb has refused all requests to do that.
The ACLU said the records it wants will “expose whether and when Governor Holcomb first understood the magnitude of the risk that COVID-19 posed to people living and working in state and federal prisons and the surrounding communities,” among other things.
“Public health experts have rung multiple alarm bells about the spread of COVID-19 in our prison system. Despite those warnings, the depopulation of jails, prisons, and other detention facilities continues too slowly to avoid catastrophe.” said Jane Henegar, executive director at the ACLU of Indiana. “Our FOIA requests will show what Governor Holcomb and IDOC knew about the impacts of COVID-19 on our prison system ahead of its spread, and what they failed to discover by relying on faulty models.”
A spokesperson with the governor’s office provided the following statement:
"We regularly receive public records request and fulfill them according to the law."