The Freedom of Information Act of the state of Alabama combines the Open Records Law and the Open Meetings Law under a single legal section that allows residents of the state to seek information from the state and its agencies. Enacted on the heels of the federal FOIA, the Alabama Freedom of Information Law allows citizens to inspect and copy all forms of records with a few exceptions held by the state government.
A two pronged approach that ensures government accountability by openly exposing the workings of the government and its representatives and the policies used by them to operate the various agencies and allot tax payer funds to them, the Alabama state FOIA is a combination of the Open Records Law andthe Open meetings Law.
Alabama Code 36.12.40: The Open Records Law: In the state of Alabama, every resident of the state has the right to inspect public writing and records and request a copy of such documents from any state agency that is run through the use of government funds.Except for records which are exempt under the law and have been stated in the Act, members of the community have the legal right to request all other forms of information.
Alabama Code 36.35A.1: The Open Meetings Law:Under the provisions of this law, members of the public have the right to attend any meeting or event held by a government agency or state run body. Citizens do not need special permission nor should any conditions be applied for attending such events.Community members also have the right to request information about such meetings. Also known as the Sunshine Law, the Open Meetings Act together with the Open Records Act was created to foster an environment of transparency.
The Open Records Act applies to all forms of records including reports, books, printed material, photographs, tapes, recorded content, electronic records and others held by state agencies. All of these are to be made available for public inspection and upon request; an individual who seeks this information also has the right to take a copy of these public records along.
While the law applies to almost all branches of the state government, the judiciary is not included in the list of agencies that need to adhere to the Act.Also, entities that report to the judiciary are exempt from this law.The Open Records law is framed such that while the public gets access to government held records, the privacy and individual rights of a person are not compromised and in keeping with this, certain pieces of information are only released on consent from the subject of the inquiry while others are held back.
Some of the records which are not offered to the public at large include sensitive personnel records, including medical reports and findings, social security number, financial details, information on pending criminal investigations and records that need to be held back in the interest of the public
Can you request for a warrant search and criminal background check under the provisions of this law?
As stated above, no data pertaining to pending criminal matters is released to private and individual applicants in the state of Alabama. Furthermore, even the dissemination of crime history information is restricted to agencies that offer certain services, particularly in the child and elderly are sectors. All other applicants including those that seek a background check for the purpose of employment will need to get a consent form signed from the subject of such an inquiry.
However, it is possible to get information on your criminal records in the state. In fact, you can even get such background information notarized which may be needed when using the document for seeking a job.