Cleveland Co. DA refuses to disclose names of 20 people arrested on drug complaints a week earlier

Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn says he would be endangering the lives of people arrested Dec. 11 on drug complaints if he were to disclose their names to the public, The Norman Transcript reported today.

Mashburn told the newspaper he could not release the names of those arrested because some might not be charged in District Court.

"I will be putting lives in danger," he said.

The article doesn't provide Mashburn's reasoning for that claim.

The Oklahoma Open Records Act, however, explicitly requires law enforcement agencies to disclose the information.

"A. Law enforcement agencies shall make available for public inspection, if kept, the following records:

1. An arrestee description, including the name, date of birth, address, race, sex, physical description, and occupation of the arrestee;

2. Facts concerning the arrest, including the cause of arrest and the name of the arresting officer;

3. A chronological list of all incidents, including initial offense report information showing the offense, date, time, general location, officer, and a brief summary of what occurred;

8. Jail registers, including jail blotter data or jail booking information recorded on persons at the time of incarceration showing the name of each prisoner with the date and cause of commitment, the authority committing the prisoner, whether committed for a criminal offense, a description of the prisoner, and the date or manner of discharge or escape of the prisoner." (Okla. Stat. tit. 51, § 24A.8(A))

The newspaper said 10 people were believed to have been booked into the McClain County Jail and seven into the Cleveland County Detention Center. The whereabouts of the other three was unclear, the newspaper said.

Disclosing the names of people arrested serves to protect them. As several FOI Oklahoma members have noted regarding the story, we don't live in a state in which local authorities may arrest and incarcerate people in secret.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.