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Final Decision FIC2012-287
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Troy Artis,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2012-287
Michael Bibens, Director of Nutrition and
Food Services, State of Connecticut, York
Correctional Institution, Department of
Correction; and State of Connecticut, York
Correctional Institution, Department of
Correction,
     Respondents
April 24, 2013

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 13, 2012, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts, 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 May 30, 2012, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents denied his May 6, 2012 request for certain public records relating to diet and nutrition, and requesting the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent Director of Nutrition and Food Services.
     3.  It is found that the complainant by letter dated May 7, 2012 requested that the respondent Director of Nutritional Services provide him with the following:
          a. The calories per day given to inmates housed in the Department of Correction (”DOC”);
          b. Records detailing the recommended daily food allowance used by the DOC;
          c. The number of inmates housed in the DOC who are approved for “religious diet,” as well as their religious affiliation.
     4.  It is found that the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request on May 18, 2012, and replied on May 22, 2012 by answering that the DOC master menu provides an average of 2700-2800 calories per day; that there are no records detailing the recommended daily food allowance used by the DOC; that there is no “religious diet,” only a master menu, common fare, and medically-ordered therapeutic diets; and that inmate religious affiliation was considered confidential and was not available for public information.
     5.  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 section 1-218, 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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.
     7.  Section 1-212(a)(1), 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 found that the requested records, to the extent they exist, are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
     9. It is found that the complainant requested a low salt diet for high blood pressure, and also requested a vegetarian diet based on his religious beliefs when he found the low-salt meal he was offered unacceptable. The complainant subsequently filed a grievance or grievances concerning the sufficiency of the meals he was given and the respondents’ accommodation to his dietary needs.  
     10. It is found that the respondents do not use the kinds of records requested by the complainant, that is, nutritional records “detailing the recommended daily food allowance” to construct menus. New menus are variations on old menus, which are updated by swapping, for example, a veal patty for chicken-fried steak, or by similar food substitutions. Menus are submitted to an outside dietician for approval, but are not reviewed by the respondents using nutritional records as a guideline.
     11. It is found that the respondents provided all the records in their custody or control that were reasonably responsive to the complainant’s request. While the complainant maintains that the result of the grievance process demonstrates that the respondents failed to accommodate his dietary needs, the evidence of that process does not indicate that the complainant was denied any existing records that he requested.
     12. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged.

     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 April 24, 2013.

__________________________
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:
Troy Artis #154149
Osborn Correctional Institution
335 Bilton Road
Somers, CT  06071
Michael Bibens, Director of Nutrition and Food Services,
State of Connecticut, York Correctional Institution, Department
of Correction; and State of Connecticut, York Correctional
Institution, Department of Correction
c/o 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/2012-287/FD/cac/4/24/2013