FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Jose Arcia,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-264

Director, State of Connecticut, Department
of Correction, Maloney Center for
Training and Staff Development; and State
of Connecticut, Department of Correction,

 
  Respondents

March 10, 2010

       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 10, 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.).  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 February 6, 2009, the complainant made a written request for copies of:

 

a.       The disciplinary hearing officer training manual;

 

b.      The disciplinary investigator officer presenting the case and or copies of the disciplinary investigator conducting the disciplinary investigation of the alleged offense [sic];

 

c.       The advocate training manual;

 

d.      Required documents to be filed by the investigator, the hearing officer and the advocate, if any, continuance is requested; and

 

e.       The custody supervisor training manual.

 

3.      It is found that on March 5, 2009, the complainant made a written request for copies of:

 

a.       The disciplinary hearing investigator training and disciplinary hearing officer’s training manual;

 

b.      The advocate’s training manual, unit manager’s training manual, counselor and correctional treatment officer’s training manual; and

 

c.       The custody supervisor training manual.

 

4.      By letters dated March 22, 2009 and April 3, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide copies of all the records he requested, described in paragraphs 2 and 3, above.

 

5.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., in relevant part, 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 inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or 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 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.      At the hearing in this matter, the complainant testified that he was seeking only the records described in paragraphs 2.a, 2.c, 2.d, and 3.a and 3.b, above.

 

10.     With respect to the records described in paragraph 2.a and 3.a, above, as to the disciplinary hearing officer’s training manual, it is found that such records do not exist.  It is found, however, that the respondents do maintain a disciplinary investigator’s training manual, described in paragraph 3.a, above.

 

11.     The respondents claim that the training manual for disciplinary investigators is exempt from disclosure.

 

12.     After the hearing in this matter, the respondents submitted unredacted copies of the training manual for disciplinary investigators for in camera inspection, which pages shall be identified herein as IC-2009-264-1 through IC-2009-264-98.

 

13.     The respondents claim that the entire manual is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(18), G.S., which 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.

 

14.     It is found that the respondents identified IC-2009-264-1 through IC-2009-264-36 as print-outs of displays used in a power point training session for disciplinary investigators.  It is found that the respondents identified IC-2009-264-37 through IC-2009-264-58 as the lesson plan that goes with the power point display.  It is found that the respondents identified IC-2009-264-59 and IC-2009-264-60 as standardized forms.  It is found that the respondents identified IC-2009-264-61 through IC-2009-264-72 as handouts for disciplinary investigators to study.  It is found that the respondents identified IC-2009-264-73 through IC-2009-264-98 as test questions and answers for disciplinary investigator certification. 

 

15.     The respondents claim that the commissioner of DOC had reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of all of the records submitted for in camera inspection may result in a security risk because “armed with this knowledge, inmates might be able to manipulate the process,” and undermine the respondents’ ability to maintain discipline, testified a DOC official.

 

16.     Upon careful examination of IC-2009-264-1 through IC-2009-264-98, it is found that such records concern training potential disciplinary investigators about the goals of the disciplinary process, the importance of fairness, the disciplinary investigator’s role and responsibilities in providing due process, including how to complete disciplinary reports, and the need to understand the limitations and needs of the inmate population in maintaining effective discipline in the correctional institution. 

 

17.     Based upon careful review of the in camera documents, it is found that IC-2009-264-21 through IC-2009-264-23, and IC-2009-264-69 through IC-2009-264-72 are exempt from mandatory disclosure by virtue of 1-210(b)(18), G.S.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by denying the complainant such records.

 

18.     With respect to the remainder of the in camera records, it is found that the respondents have failed to prove that the Commissioner of DOC had reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of such records may create a security risk by permitting inmates to become “armed with this knowledge.” 

 

19.     It is also found that the in camera records described in paragraph 14, above, are not training records “that describe, in any manner, security procedures, emergency plans or security equipment,” within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18)(D), G.S.

 

20.     The respondents claim that IC-2009-264-74 through IC-2009-264-97 are also exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(6), G.S.,which provides in relevant part that nothing in the FOI Act shall require the disclosure of “test questions, scoring keys and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment or academic examinations . . . .”

 

21.     Upon careful examination of the records described in paragraph 20, above, it is found that IC-2009-264-74 through IC-2009-264-97 are test questions and scoring keys used to administer the certification examination for disciplinary investigator, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(6), G.S. 

 

22.     It is concluded, therefore, that IC-2009-264-74 through IC-2009-264-97 are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(6), G.S.

 

23.     It is concluded, therefore, that IC-2009-264-1 through IC-2009-264-20, IC-2009-264-24 through IC-2009-264-68, and IC-2009-264-73, are not exempt from disclosure.  It is concluded that the respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to provide copies of such records to the complainant.

 

24.     With respect to the complainant’s request for training manuals, described in paragraph 2.c and 3.b, above, it is found that the respondents provided copies of the advocate training manual to the complainant on September 9, 2009.  It is found that on that date, the respondents also informed the complainant that there are no training manuals for unit manager, counselor and correctional treatment officer.

 

25.     At the hearing in this matter, the respondents agreed to provide another copy of the advocate training manual to the complainant.  It is found that the respondents did so on November 10, 2009.

 

26.     At the hearing in this matter, the respondents also agreed to search for records responsive to the complainant’s request for “required documents to be filed by the investigator, the hearing officer and the advocate, if any, if any continuance is requested,” as described in paragraph 2.d, above.  It is found that by letter dated November 10, 2009, the respondents informed the complainant that the respondents do not maintain any records that are responsive to such request.

 

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

 

1.         Forthwith, the respondents shall provide copies of the records described in paragraph 23 of the findings of fact, free of charge.

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 10, 2010.

 

 

____________________________

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:

 

Jose Arcia #320962

Corrigan-Radgowski CC

986 Norwich-New London Turnpike
Uncasville, CT 06382

 

Director, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction,

Maloney Center for Training and

Staff Development; and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction

C/o Nicole Anker, Esq.

State of Connecticut

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2009-264FD/sw/3/11/2010