FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Willie Fuller,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2005-134

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction,

 
  Respondent October 26, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 31, 2005, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  

           

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

 

1.  The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  By letter of complaint dated March 20, 2005, and filed with the Commission on March 22, 2005, and supplemented by letter dated May 23, 2005, and filed on June 1, 2005, the complainant appealed, alleging that he is indigent and that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by refusing to waive the $21.00 fee for copies of records requested by the complainant.

 

3.  It is found that, on or about August 23, 2004, the complainant made written requests for records to various employees of the respondent department.   The content and disclosability of those records is not at issue in this appeal.

 

4.  It is found that, by letter dated August 31, 2004, the complainant was informed that his August 23, 2004 request had been received and that a twenty-five cent per page copying fee would apply.

 

5.  It is found that sometime between February and early March 2005, the complainant was informed that the copying fee was $21.00 (eighty-four pages at twenty-five cents per page), and that the respondent department would await confirmation that the complainant had authorized the withdrawal of such amount from his inmate account prior to such records being provided to him.

 

6.  It is unclear from the record if, and when, the complainant requested that the respondent waive the $21.00 fee.  In any event, at the hearing in this matter, the respondent’s claim was not that it had not received such a request, but that even if it had, such request would have been denied because the complainant did not meet the respondent department’s standard for indigence. 

 

7.  The complainant contended at the hearing in this matter that he was indigent at the time he made his records request. [1]  He further contended that the respondent department does not have a policy or standard for waiving fees with respect to FOI requests made by inmates.  It is found that the complainant’s contentions are inaccurate. 

 

8.  The Commission takes administrative notice of the final decisions in contested case docket #s FIC 2004-366, Kiewhon Canady v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction (“FIC 2004-366”) and FIC 2004-370, Kiewhon Canady v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction (“FIC 2004-370”).

 

9.  In FIC 2004-366 and FIC 2004-370 the Commission dealt with a similar claim of indigence/ fee waiver request to the respondent by an inmate and ordered the respondent to:

 

2.  Henceforth…apply the same standard of indigence to all FOI Act requests by inmates that it applies to other inmate matters generally.

 

10.  It is found that the respondent’s general standard of indigence that the FOI Commission ordered the respondent to apply to inmates is documented in the respondent’s  Administrative Directives.  Such standard is met if an inmate’s account contains less than $5.00 and no more than $5.00 for a period of ninety days.

 

11.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant conceded, and it is found that, he did not meet the indigence standard, described in paragraph 10, above, as typically he had an average of about $50.00 in his account during the period at issue.

 

12.  It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act as alleged in the complaint because the complainant was not indigent during the period at issue and was not entitled to have the $21.00 fee waived.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1.  The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 26, 2005.

 

________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

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:

 

Willie Fuller, #61311

Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution

391 Shaker Road

Enfield, CT 06082

and

53 Weferer Street

New Haven, CT 06511

 

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction

c/o Henri Alexandre, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

110 Sherman Street

Hartford, CT 06105

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2005-134FD/paj/10/28/2005

 

                                                                                     



[1] At the time of the filing of this complaint (and the complainant’s records request) the complainant was an inmate at one of the respondent’s facilities.  The complainant was released at some time prior to the hearing in this matter.