FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Jeffrey M. Pierce,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-704

Kenneth Butricks, Administrative

Captain, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and State

of Connecticut, Department of

Correction,

 
  Respondents September 23, 2009
       

 

This matter was scheduled to be heard as a contested case on May 12, 2009.  On May 5, 2009 the respondents moved to have the matter dismissed without a hearing pursuant to 1-206(b)(4), G.S., and a memorandum in support of the motion on May 8, 2009. On May 6, 2009, the complainant filed an objection to the motion to dismiss and on May 15, 2009 he filed a response to the respondents’ May 8, 2009 memorandum.  

 

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 on November 4, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents denied his request for a copy of his address book.  The complainant, who is an inmate in the custody of the respondent department, alleges that his address book was confiscated because the home address of a staff member of the respondent department was found in the address book. 

 

3.      Section 1-206(b)(4), G.S., provides that:

 

“[n]otwithstanding any provision of this subsection to the contrary, in the case of an appeal to the commission of a denial by a public agency, the commission may, upon motion of such agency, confirm the action of the agency and dismiss the appeal without a hearing if it finds, after examining the notice of appeal and construing all allegations most favorably to the appellant, that (A) the agency has not violated the Freedom of Information Act, or (B) the agency has committed a technical violation of the Freedom of Information Act that constitutes a harmless error that does not infringe the appellant’s rights under said act.

 

4.      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.

 

5.      Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

“[e]xcept 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. 

 

6.      Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that: “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record….” 

 

7.      Section 18-81, G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

The Commissioner of Correction shall administer, coordinate and control the operations of the department and shall be responsible for the overall supervision and direction of all institutions, facilities and activities of the department.  The commissioner shall establish rules for the administrative practices and custodial and rehabilitative methods of said institutions and facilities in accordance with recognized correctional standards.

 

8.         State of Connecticut Department of Correction Administrative Directive 6.10(3)(C) defines contraband as “[a]n item (1) not authorized to be in a facility, the grounds of a facility, a vehicle, a contract program area or in a inmate's possession; (2) that is authorized, but used in an unauthorized or prohibited manner; (3) that is authorized, but altered; or (4) ownership cannot be established.”

 

9.      State of Connecticut Department of Correction Administrative Directive 6.10(9) also provides that “[a]ny property found in the inmate's possession consistent with Section 3(C) of this Directive shall be considered contraband and disposed

of in accordance with Section 31 of this Directive.”

 

10.       In support of its motion to dismiss, the respondents argued, in part, that the document at issue is an “inmate’s personal address book, containing pornographic pictures and residential addresses of staff which is not ‘data’ nor is it ‘information’ nor does it relate to the conduct of the public’s business” within the meaning of 1-200(5), G.S.  The respondents also argued that this Commission would effectively serve as an appeal board for every decision of the respondent to confiscate contraband simply because the physical object is a written document rather than drugs or a weapon.

 

11.       In his written objection to the motion to dismiss, the complainant contended that his address book is a “written document” received, used, and maintained by the respondent department and as such is a “public record” within the meaning of 1-200(5), G.S.

 

12.       After examining the complaint and pleadings in this matter and construing all allegations most favorably to the complainant, it is found that the requested record is an address book which contains at least one address of an employee of DOC which is information inmates are strictly prohibited from possessing.  It is found that the address book, is an object and falls within the meaning of “contraband” as defined by DOC Administrative Directive 6.10(3)(C).  It is also found that the address book was confiscated by the Commissioner of DOC as contraband pursuant to her authority under 18-81, G.S., DOC Administrative Directive 6.10(3)(C), and Administrative Directive 6.10(9).

 

13.       It is concluded that, based on the circumstances in this case, the requested record is contraband within the meaning of DOC Administrative Directive 6.10(3)(C).

 

14.       It is also concluded that, based on the circumstances in this case, the requested record is not a public record within the meaning 1-200(5), G.S., and consequently the respondent did not violate the FOI Act by failing to comply with the complainant’s request.   

 

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 without a hearing pursuant to 1-206(b)(4)(A), G.S. 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 23, 2009.

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

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:

 

Jeffrey M. Pierce # 240033

Northern C I

287 Bilton Road

P.O. Box 665

Somers, CT 06071

 

Kenneth Butricks, Administrative

Captain, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and State

of Connecticut, Department of

Correction

C/o Steven R. Strom, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

110 Sherman Street

Hartford, CT 06105

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-704FD/sw/9/25/2009