FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Curt Rivard,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-350

Jon Brighthaupt, Deputy Warden,

State of Connecticut, Department

of Correction, Northern Correctional

Institution; and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction,

 
  Respondents May 12, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 5, 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.). 

 

For purposes of hearing, the above-captioned matter was consolidated with docket #FIC 2009-466, Curt Rivard v. Lauren Powers, Freedom of Information Officer and Deputy Warden, State of Connecticut, Northern Correctional Institution, Department of Correction; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction.

 

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 May 5, 2009, the complainant made a request to the respondents for a written or typed copy of the first and last names of every correctional officer, lieutenant, captain, mental health worker, medical staff or maintenance worker who has ever worked or is currently working at the Northern Correctional facility from the years 2003 through 2009.

 

3.      It is found that by letter dated May 7, 2009, the respondent deputy warden informed the complainant that his request had been reviewed and that no document exists that meets the exact criteria of his request.  The complainant was further informed that staff rosters and assignments are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(18)(G), G.S.

 

4.      It is found that in a letter to the respondent deputy warden, dated May 12, 2009, the complainant clarified that he was not requesting a log book that disclosed the movements or assignments of staff, but rather was only requesting a list of first and last names.

 

5.      It is found that by letter dated May 15, 2009, the respondent deputy warden restated that staff rosters are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(18), G.S., and that they will not be disclosed.

 

6.      By letter dated May 19, 2009 and filed on June 16, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his records request.

 

7.      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. 

 

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

 

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. 

 

9.       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.”

 

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

 

11.   Section 1-210(b)(18), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

Records, the disclosure of which the Commissioner of Correction . . . 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 . . . Such records shall include, but are not limited to . . .

 

(G)  Logs or other documents that contain information on the movement or assignment of inmates or staff at correctional institutions or facilities . . . .

 

12.   It is found that the information requested by the complainant is contained in the respondents’ payroll records maintained by the respondents’ human resources division, and also in the respondents’ staff rosters, which are maintained at each correctional facility.

 

13.   It is found that the respondents do not maintain any records responsive to the complainant’s request with respect to the medical or mental health staff assigned to Northern Correctional facility because those individuals are employed by the University of Connecticut Health Center and not the respondent department.

 

14.   It is found that the records described in paragraph 12 constitute logs or other documents that contain information on the movement or assignment of inmates or staff at correctional institutions or facilities within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18)(G), G.S.

 

15.   Turning to the safety risk that may result from the disclosure of the requested records to this particular complainant, it is found that the complainant’s request is limited to the first and last names of staff members who were assigned to Northern Correctional facility and that his request does not include any information regarding the shifts during which any of them worked. 

 

16.   It is found, however, that the respondents train their staff not to disclose their first names to inmates and to direct inmates to address them only by their last names if their first names are otherwise learned by the inmates.

 

17.   The respondents contended at the hearing on this matter, and it is found, that the use of only last names creates and maintains the formal relationship between staff and inmates that is necessary to maintain order in a correctional institution or facility because the formality generates respect for a staff member and his or her authority. 

 

18.   The respondents also contended at the hearing on this matter, and it is also found, that if an inmate does not respect a staff member and his or her authority, he is more likely to disobey directives which may result in a safety risk, including the risk of harm to any person or a disorder in a correctional institution or facility, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18), G.S.

 

19.   It is found that the respondent Commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of the records described in paragraph 12, above, to this inmate 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, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18), G.S.

 

20.   At the hearing on this matter, the complainant was asked by the hearing officer if he would accept a record with only the last names of staff members disclosed and the complainant stated that he would not.

 

21.   It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by denying his records 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 hereby dismissed.

           

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 12, 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:

 

Curt Rivard, #337249

Northern Correctional Institution

287 Bilton Road

Somers, CT 06071

 

Jon Brighthaupt, Deputy Warden,

State of Connecticut, Department

of Correction, Northern Correctional

Institution; and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction

c/o Nancy B. Canney, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2009-350FD/paj/5/13/2010