FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John Sylvia, III,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-090

Director of Human Resources,

State of Connecticut, Department

of Correction; and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction,

 
  Respondents January 27, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 19, 2009, 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.). 

 

Correctional Officer James Gilbert, the subject of the requested records at issue in this matter, appeared at the hearing and was granted intervener status.

 

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 by letter dated January 15, 2009, the complainant made a request to the respondent for a copy of Correctional Officer James Gilbert’s entire personnel file spanning his career as a correctional officer.

 

3.      It is found that by letter dated January 23, 2009, the respondents informed the complainant that his records request had been received and was being processed.

 

4.      It is found that by letter dated January 23, 2009, the respondents informed Correctional Officer Gilbert (hereinafter “CO Gilbert”) that the complainant had made a request for his personnel file and informed him of his right to object to its disclosure.

 

5.      It is found that by letter dated January 24, 2009, CO Gilbert submitted a written objection to the disclosure of his personnel file stating that its disclosure would constitute an invasion of his privacy.

 

6.      It is found that by letter dated January 28, 2009, the respondents informed the complainant that CO Gilbert objected to the disclosure of his personnel file pursuant to 1-214, G.S., and as a result, the records would not be provided to him.

 

7.      By letter dated February 12, 2009 and filed on February 18, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the disclosure provisions of the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his request.

 

8.      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. 

 

9.      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 section 1-212. 

 

10.   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.”

 

11.   It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

12.   Following the close of the hearing in this matter, the respondents provided the Commission with a copy of the records at issue for in camera review.  The in camera records consist of 130 pages and have been designated as IC #s 2009-090-1 through 2009-090-130, inclusive. 

 

13.   At the hearing on this matter, the respondent and the intervener contended that the Commissioner of Correction has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of the requested records may result in a risk of harm, including a risk of disorder in a correctional institution, and thus that the requested records are exempt under 1-210(b)(18), G.S. 

 

14.  Section 1-210(b)(18), G.S., provides that disclosure is not required of:

 

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 . . . .

 

            15.  Based upon careful inspection of the in camera records, it is found that the Commissioner of Correction has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of the requested records may result in a risk of harm, including a risk of disorder in a correctional institution.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the requested records are exempt under 1-210(b)(18), G.S. 

 

            16.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to provide a copy of the requested records to the complainant.

 

            17.  Considering the conclusions in paragraphs 15 and 16, above, it is unnecessary to address the application of the privacy exemption in this matter. 

 

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 January 27, 2010.

 

 

___________________________

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:

 

John Sylvia, III, #208614

Osborn Correctional Institution

335 Bilton Road

Somers, CT 06071

 

Director of Human Resources,

State of Connecticut, Department

of Correction; and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction

c/o Sandra A. Sharr, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfied, CT 06109

 

Correctional Officer James Gilbert

c/o Steven Frey, Deputy Warden

Osborn Correctional Institution

PO Box 100

Somers, CT 06071

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2009-090FD/paj/2/1/2010