New Mexico court says prison settlements are public records

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A New Mexico appellate court has determined that settlement agreements reached between a prison health care contractor and its patients are public records.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the state Court of Appeals upheld a judge’s decision that prison settlements are public records reaffirming that private entities performing a public function for a public agency are subject to the Inspection of Public Records Act.

Officials say the decision comes more than three years after news outlets, including the Albuquerque Journal, submitted written requests to the state corrections department for settlement records involving Corizon Health.

Outlets say the company settled claims in 2016 for nearly $4.6 million related to a physician suspected of sexually abusing inmates.

The company said IPRA did not require settlement release due to confidentiality agreements.

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