County Uses Sunshine Law Provision to Delay Your Daily Local Request for Records on Night of Burham Escape

July 13, 2023

WARREN, Pa. – Warren County has invoked a provision of Pennsylvania’s Open Records Law (also known as the Sunshine Act) to delay answering a request from Your Daily Local for records pertaining to staffing at the Warren County Jail the night of July 6, 2023.

That was the night Michael C. Burham escaped the Jail by climbing through the roof of the jail yard and using a rope made of bed sheets to climb down from the roof.

Your Daily Local, using a Right to Know Request, asked for records pertaining to the number of employees on shift during the breakout. What was requested were time sheets and/or staff logs from Midnight July 6 through Midnight July 8. Burham escaped between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. July 6.

Usually, a governmental entity has five days to respond to such a request.

But Warren County immediately filed a 30-day extension, a request they can make based on a few different criteria. In this case, the County said that “a timely response cannot be accomplished due to bona fide staffing limitations” and that “the extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.”

The response to the RTK said Warren County expects to respond to Your Daily Local’s request “on or before August 12, 2023”.

The response was signed by Pamela J. Matve, the Open Records Officer for the County.

Previous RTKs filed with the County by Your Daily Local have always been responded to within the five-day window.

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