Inmate’s Right to Access Prison PoliciesGiarratano v. Johnson 

Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) most Department of Corrections Policies are public record and, any Virginia resident may request copies.  However, FOIA contains a provision stating that prison inmates are not entitled to any records.  We filed suit challenging this provision on behalf of Joe Giarratano, a Virginia inmate.  Mr. Giarratano has Hepatitis C, and does not believe that he is receiving adequate treatment.  He has sought VDOC policies on the treatment of Hepatitis C, but the department refuses to release them.  Our case argues that this denial violates Mr. Giarratano’s rights under the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  On October 17, 2006, the court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss.  We have appealed, and the case was argued on December 6, 2007. On March 25, 2008, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court, upholding the statute.

Court Documents:

Appellate Brief- U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit (pdf)
Complaint- U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia (pdf)

Date filed

January 18, 2006

Court

U.S. District Court, Big Stone Gap

Stay informed

ACLU of Virginia is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National