NASHVILLE (AP) – A Nashville judge suggested on Wednesday that someone from the Department of Children's Services should go to jail for making extensive redactions to the records of children who died.
Judge Carol McCoy earlier this year ruled that the department had to release to the media the records of children who died or nearly died after DCS was supposed to be helping them. She authorized some redactions, but a recent batch of 44 files blacked out a lot of other information as well.
The Tennessean reports that at a court hearing on Wednesday, McCoy equated the redactions with contempt of court because they ignored her specific orders about what the agency was supposed to black out.
"You find this court a commissioner or assistant commissioner, someone big enough to tell me they are the ones who didn't follow the order," McCoy said. "I need the name of the person responsible . someone who needs to sit in the pokey."
DCS attorney Doug Dimond defended the redactions as being done in good faith to protect extremely sensitive material.
"We're not trying to play hide the ball here," he said.
The state attorney general's office had argued in court filings that the additional redactions were required to protect juvenile court records and medical information.
They argued that it was not enough to black out the names of people and places because The Tennessean newspaper was able to use other information in thae files to determine the identities of some of the children.
The evidence given for that was that The Tennessean had written articles about some of the children and contacted some of their relatives. However, nothing in the filing from the attorney general's office suggests that attorneys there had direct knowledge of how The Tennessean obtained the children's identities.
McCoy ordered DCS to go back and restore the information that was not supposed to be removed from the original 44 files as well as another 50 files released on Wednesday. The revised records must be ready by July 5.
Information from: The Tennessean, www.tennessean.com
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