As of September 5, 2022, Freedom of Information Commission meetings and contested case hearings will resume being conducted in person. All parties and witnesses must appear in person for their contested case hearings and Commission meetings. Please access this link or contact the Commission for further information.

Final Decision FIC2013-263
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Gaylord Salters,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2013-263
Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction, Cheshire
Correctional Institution; and State of
Connecticut, Department of Correction,
Cheshire Correctional Institution,
     Respondents
April 9, 2014

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 17, 2014, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The complainant, who is incarcerated, appeared via teleconference, pursuant to the January 2004 memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the Department of Correction.  See Docket No. CV 03-0826293, Anthony Sinchak v. FOIC, Superior Court, J.D. of Hartford at Hartford, Corrected Order dated January 27, 2004 (Sheldon, J.). 
     After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
     1.  The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
     2.  It is found that, by letter dated April 12, 2013, the complainant made a request to the respondents for copies of a “staff statement,” and an incident report, related to his June 25, 2012 disciplinary hearing.
     3.  By letter of complaint dated April 26, 2013 and filed May 1, 2013, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with the request described in paragraph 2, above.
     4.  It is found that, on May 31, 2013, the respondents provided 13 pages of records, consisting of certain pages of the incident report, described in paragraph 2, above.  It is further found, however, that 23 pages of such incident report were withheld from the complainant at that time.
     5.  It is found that, approximately two weeks prior to the hearing in this matter, the respondents attempted to provide the complainant with a copy of all 36 pages comprising the incident report, with the names of other inmates identified in the report redacted.1   It is found that, at that time, the complainant refused to accept such copy, because he contested the redactions.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents claimed the names of the inmates were redacted from the incident report because their disclosure may constitute a safety and security risk, pursuant to §1-210(b)(18), G.S.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents offered to again, provide the complainant with a copy of all 36 pages of the report, with redactions.  The complainant continued to contest the redactions in the incident report, but he agreed to not reject the redacted copy when it is again offered to him. 

1
The respondents did not redact the complainant's name, or the name of the complainant's cellmate.
     6.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:
“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
     7.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with 1-212.
     8.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     9.  It is found that the records described in paragraph 2, above, are public records. 
     10. Section 1-210(b)(18), G.S. provides, in relevant part, that disclosure is not required of: 
Records, the disclosure of which the Commissioner of Correction…has reasonable grounds to believe may result in a safety risk, including the risk of harm to any person or the risk of an escape from, or a disorder in, a correctional institution or facility under the supervision of the Department of Correction or Whiting Forensic Division facilities. Such records shall include, but are not limited to:
            (A)  Security manuals, including emergency plans contained or referred to in such security manuals;

            (B)  Engineering and architectural drawings of correctional institutions or facilities or Whiting Forensic Division facilities;
             (C)  Operational specifications of security systems utilized by the Department of Correction at any correctional institution or facility or Whiting Forensic Division facilities, except that a general description of any such security system and the cost and quality of such system may be disclosed;

            (D)  Training manuals prepared for correctional institutions and facilities or Whiting Forensic Division facilities that describe, in any manner, security procedures, emergency plans or security equipment;

            (E)  Internal security audits of correctional institutions and facilities or Whiting Forensic Division facilities;

            (F)  Minutes or recordings of staff meetings of the Department of Correction or Whiting Forensic Division facilities, or portions of such minutes or recordings, that contain or reveal information relating to security or other records otherwise exempt from disclosure under this subdivision;

            (G)  Logs or other documents that contain information on the movement or assignment of inmates or staff at correctional institutions or facilities; and

            (H)  Records that contain information on contacts between inmates, as defined in section 18-84, and law enforcement officers;
     11. It is found that the requested records pertain to an investigation into allegations that the complainant was involved in smuggling contraband, specifically, marijuana, into the correctional facility.  It is further found that, thereafter, an intelligence investigation was conducted, through which it was determined that the contraband was subsequently sold by the complainant to other inmates.   
     12. At the hearing in this matter, Christine Barrone, the respondents’ FOI liaison, testified that she provided all 36 pages of the report to the complainant, but redacted the names of other inmates because the disclosure of such names may constitute a safety or security risk to the facility.  It is found that drug dealing, which includes extortion, selling, and using of drugs, within the correctional institutions is a very serious problem for the Department of Correction.  It is further found that if the names of inmates involved in drug dealing were made public, it might make it easier for inmates looking for drugs to have access to inmates involved in drug distribution and also make it easier to obtain information about ways to smuggle drugs into the facility. 
     13. Based upon the foregoing, it is found that the Commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of the names of the inmates in the incident report may constitute a safety risk, within the meaning of §1-210(b)(18), G.S., and that therefore, the respondents may permissibly redact such names.
     14. With regard to the complainant’s request for an “employee statement,” it is found that the respondents have no records responsive to this request.  The respondents clarified, at the hearing in this matter, that the document referred to by the complainant as an “employee statement” is a supplemental report to the incident report prepared by one or more officers who were involved in the investigation, and that such supplemental reports are included among the 36 pages the respondents attempted to provide to the complainant earlier this month.  
     15. Accordingly, based upon the foregoing findings of fact, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

     1. The complaint is dismissed.  However, the Commission notes that is relying on the representation of Attorney Canney that the respondents will again provide the complainant with a redacted copy of the entire 36 page incident report.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 9, 2014.
__________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Gaylord Salters # 211892
Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center
986 Norwich/New London Turnpike
Uncasville, CT  06382
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction,
Cheshire Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction, Cheshire Correctional Institution
c/o Nancy Canney, Esq.
Nancy Kase O’Brasky, Esq.
James Neil, Esq.
State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction
24 Wolcott Hill Road
Wethersfield, CT  06109
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2013-263/FD/cac/4/9/2014