The Dark State

Here at The Watch, we’ve been following the the odd story about open records laws in Kansas. When it comes to police records in particular, the state has one of the strictest laws in the country. (And it could soon get even worse.)

Local TV news station KSHB has now put up a multi-part investigation into law enforcement and open records in Kansas, including a look at how the laws got so restrictive, and a couple stories about how the laws affects citizens who are trying to get information about possible police abuse.

I’ve written about one of those stories here — Robert and Adlyn Harte spent over $25,000 in legal fees before finally obtaining the records pertaining to the police raid on their home. But see this KSHB report on another woman attempting to get information on her sister’s death in a Sherman County jail after the two women were arrested for speeding. Local TV news tends to be sensationalist and too deferential to local police and prosecutors. But there are exceptions. And this is some great work.

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."
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Radley Balko · March 25