FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Ira Alston,

 
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-440

Lauren Powers, Freedom of Information

Liaison and Deputy Warden, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction, Northern Correctional

Institution; and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction,

 
  Respondents June 9, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 13, 2010, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared 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, Superior Court, J.D. of Hartford at Hartford, Corrected Order dated January 27, 2004 (Sheldon, J.). 

 

At the hearing in this matter, the complainant objected to the respondents’ exhibits on the ground that he had not received such exhibits prior to the hearing.  The hearing officer sustained such objection and ordered the respondents to provide the complainant, after the hearing, with copies of the proposed exhibits.  The hearing officer further ordered that any objection to such proposed exhibits being made full exhibits in this matter be received by April 27, 2010.  The respondents provided copies of the proposed exhibits to the complainant after the hearing on April 13, 2010, and the complainant filed a written objection to such proposed exhibits April 26, 2010, on the ground that the hearing officer lacks authority to order and accept after-filed exhibits.  The objection is overruled and the exhibits are hereby accepted as Respondents’ Exhibit A.

 

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 July 12, 2009, the complainant made a request to the respondents for all records relating to legal visits by Attorney Frank P. Cannatelli to the complainant, between July 1, 2007 and April 30, 2008, including records that would indicate Attorney Cannatelli’s arrival and departure times to and from the facility, as well as the complainant’s departure and arrival times from and to his cell for purposes of such legal visits, between July 1, 2007 and April 30, 2008.

                                         

3.  By letter of complaint dated July 22, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by failing to comply with the request described in paragraph 2, above.

 

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 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:

 

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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours . . . (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.  It is found that, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, such records are public records and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure. 

 

            8.  It is found that, by letter dated July 22, 2009, the respondents acknowledged the request, described in paragraph 2, above, but that such letter was not received by the complainant.   

 

            9.  It is found that the respondents received a Notice of Hearing and Order to Show Cause in this matter from the Commission on February 11, 2010, and only then realized that the complainant’s request, described in paragraph 2, above, had not been processed.  It is found that the respondents, upon such realization, immediately responded to such request.

 

            10.  With regard to the request, described in paragraph 2, above, it is found that, on or about February 19, 2010, Officer Sokolowski, visited the complainant in his cell and attempted to provide the complainant with copies of entries from a professional visit log that are responsive, in part, to the request described in paragraph 2, above, as well as a letter dated February 19, 2010, from the respondent Powers, stating that the unit log, which contains information on the complainant’s movement to and from his cell, is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(18)(G), G.S.

 

            11.  It is found that the complainant refused to accept and sign for the records, described in paragraph 10, above.

 

12.  Section 1-210(b)(18), G.S., provides, in relevant part, that “[n]othing in the Freedom of Information Act shall be construed to require disclosure of:

 

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:

 

      (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.

 

13.  It is found that the unit log book entries, requested by the complainant, which show the complainant’s departure and arrival times from and to his cell for purposes of legal visits, constitute “logs or other documents that contain information on the movement or assignment of inmates  or staff”, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18)(G), G.S.  It is also found that the Commissioner of Correction has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of such records, which also contain information gathered by staff conducting “unit tours” during each shift – such as the number of staff on duty, any security concerns or incidents that occurred during the shift, medical information about inmates, and security codes – may result in a safety risk.  It is therefore found that the unit log book is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(18), G.S.

 

14.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged in refusing to provide a copy of the records described in paragraph 13, above, to the complainant.

 

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 June 9, 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:

 

Ira Alston, #275666

Northern Correctional Institution

287 Bilton Road

Somers, CT 06071

 

Lauren Powers, Freedom of Information

Liaison and Deputy Warden, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction, Northern Correctional

Institution; and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction

c/o Nancy Kase O’Brasky, Esq. and

Nancy Canney, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2009-440FD/paj/6/16/2010