ACLU, Southern Center file lawsuit against Clayton Sheriff Hill over COVID-19 transparency

The ACLU and  Southern Center for Human Rights have filed an open records lawsuit against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill over information pertaining to COVID-19 and the Clayton Jail.

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The ACLU and Southern Center for Human Rights have filed an open records lawsuit against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill over information pertaining to COVID-19 and the Clayton Jail.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the Southern Center for Human Rights have filed a lawsuit against Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill for allegedly violating open records laws.

The organizations said that they have been trying for a month to obtain documents on coronavirus testing at the Clayton County Jail and whether anyone at the facility has the disease. But the sheriff’s office has failed to provide the requested information.

“The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office has a duty to the public to be transparent in its operations, and this duty is especially critical in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kosha Tucker, staff attorney with the ACLU of Georgia, said in a release on Thursday.

“Because surveillance of COVID-19 cases is essential to preventing and mitigating outbreaks in the Clayton County jail, the public has a right to know about the practices of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and the effects of COVID-19 on the Clayton County Jail,” Tucker said.

The Clayton Sheriff’s Office could not be immediately reached Thursday morning for comment.

The groups allege that after seeking information on COVID-19 from the office in late April, the sheriff’s office had “shifting” responses. They include initially saying the office had “no responsive documents/records” to saying it would provide statistical data. The office then said it could not share information by “accessing medical records.”

Story is developing.