By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America is trying to seal from public view documents in a lawsuit that claim female visitors to a Tennessee prison were forced to undergo strip searches to prove they were menstruating.
Three women have accused the company of violating their rights by forcing them to expose their genitals to guards after they tried to bring sanitary pads or tampons into South Central Correctional Facility, about 85 miles southwest of Nashville. One woman said her three children had to witness the search.
Protective orders in the case allow documents that could pose a security risk to the prison to be filed under seal. Each side is accusing the other of violating those orders.
Attorneys for the women accuse the private prison company of sealing documents where no genuine security concern exists in order to protect itself from embarrassment, violating the public’s right to access court proceedings.
The Nashville-based company said the plaintiffs, who have been allowed to proceed anonymously, are trying to “inflame the public” and expose confidential prison information.
The controversy began last month after the plaintiffs publicly filed a motion for partial summary judgment, asking a judge to rule on some issues where the facts are not in dispute. Two supporting documents were also filed publicly but the exhibits were filed under seal, with plaintiffs asking the judge to let them file a redacted public copy in 10 days.
The company objected and asked that all of the documents be placed under seal.
The plaintiffs shot back, asking the judge to reject the company’s request and instead order it to publicly refile its motion for summary judgment and supporting documents, which it had previously filed under seal.
“Under defendants’ broad reading …