The overlap between making information public and threatening someone’s safety is the reason for a bill to restrict Illinois prison inmates’ ability to file Freedom of Information Act requests. Sponsoring State Rep. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) says prisoners are trying to use open-records laws to obtain vacation schedules and even photos of prison employees. His bill would outlaw that, as well as attempts to file FOIA requests for information already available without such a request.
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One example: Prison officials being required to photocopy a 300-page book which is already on a shelf in the prison library. State Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) argued against the bill, suggesting it’s discriminating against illiterate inmates and another step toward putting a lid on information for no good reason. Cunningham said the Department of Corrections estimates it spent $1 million fulfilling arguable unnecessary FOIA requests from inmates. HB 4592 has passed the House, 111-3-8.