Final Decision FIC2014-796
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2014-796|
Scott Semple, Commissioner, State of
Connecticut, Department of Correction;
and State of Connecticut, Department of
August 12, 2015
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 28, 2015, at which time the complainant and 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 et al, 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. By letter of complaint filed November 5, 2014, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents had violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request for copies of certain records and for a fee waiver, and asking for the imposition of a civil penalty.
3. It is found that the complainant made an October 5, 2014 request to the respondents’ FOI liaison for:
... all legible copies of any unit directives, policies, rules and/or memos issued by warden Scott Erfe regarding inmate strip searches here at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center....
4. It is found that the respondents’ FOI liaison responded on October 7, 2014 by advising the complainant that directives are available through his unit counselor, at a cost of $0.25 per page.
5. It is found that the complainant did not take the respondents’ October 7, 2014 advice.
6. It is found that twelve pages of so-called “unit directives” are the only records responsive to the complainant’s request.
7. Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records” as follows:
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, …whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
8. Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:
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 … receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.
9. Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part: “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
10. It is concluded that the unit directives requested by the complainant are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
11. It is found that the complainant sees his unit counselor daily, and that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by advising him to obtain the records from his unit counselor.
12. Section 1-212(d)((1), G.S., provides: “The public agency shall waive any fee provided for in this section when … [t]he person requesting the records is an indigent individual….”
13. It is found that the inmate is not indigent for purposes of the respondents’ indigence standard.
14. The complainant maintains that the respondents’ indigence policy is inconsistent with the FOI Act, and that the FOI Act requires the respondents to waive the fee if the cost is less than ten dollars.
15. It appears that the complainant is confusing §1-212(d)(1), G.S., which pertains to indigence, with §1-212(c), G.S., which permits an agency to require prepayment for copies costing $10.00 or more.
16. In any event, the Commission has previously approved the portion of the respondents’ indigence standard requiring that an inmate have less than five dollars ($5.00) in his inmate account at all times during the 90 days preceding the receipt of a records. See, Docket #FIC 2009-137, Rollins v. Department of Correction.
17. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by requiring payment for the copies requested by the complainant.
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.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 12, 2015.
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:
Ira Alston #275666
Northern Correctional Institution
287 Bilton Road
Somers, CT 06071
Scott Semple, Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction;
and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
c/o James Neil Esq.
24 Wolcott Hill Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission