Final Decision FIC2011-643
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2011-643|
Todd Sokolowski, Freedom of Information
Liaison, State of Connecticut, Department
of Correction, Northern Correctional
Institution; and State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction,
October 24, 2012
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 10, 2012, 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. It is found that on October 23, 2011, the complainant requested copies of the following records from 2000 to 2012:
a. Monthly Statistical Tracking Analysis Report (“STAR”);
b. Weekly disciplinary summary;
c. Monthly disciplinary summary;
d. Grievance logs.
3. It is found that on October 25, 2011, the respondents denied the complainant’s request.
4. By letter of complaint filed October 29, 2011, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of records.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.”
8. It is concluded that the records requested by the complainant are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
9. Section 1-210(b)(18), G.S., exempts from mandatory disclosure:
Records, the disclosure of which the Commissioner of Correction, or as it applies to Whiting Forensic Division facilities of the Connecticut Valley Hospital, the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services, 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;
10. It is found that the STAR is a data collection tool containing information that permits the respondents’ top management to evaluate the performance of the respondents’ institutions with respect to inmate and staff issues such as assaults, contraband, escapes, grievances, and disciplinary measures.
11. It is found that the respondents maintain the confidentiality of STAR, and that only top management is permitted access.
12. With respect to the disciplinary summaries and the grievance logs requested by the complainant, it is found that such records contain information about incidents that gave rise to a grievance or discipline, any disciplinary proceedings, and any sanctions imposed.
13. It is found that the commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of the STAR records and the grievance logs from 2000 to 2012 may result in a safety risk, within the meaning of §1-210(b)(18), G.S., because the information may reveal patterns and trends within the institutions about sensitive issues. Accordingly, it is further concluded that such records are exempt from mandatory disclosure to a person in the custody of DOC.
14. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by failing to disclose such records to 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 October 24, 2012.
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
Todd Sokolowski, Freedom of Information Liaison,
State of Connecticut, Department of Correction,
Northern Correctional Institution; and State
of Connecticut, Department of Correction,
c/o Nancy Kase O’Brasky, Esq.
Department of Correction
24 Wolcott Hill Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission