FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John Sylvia,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-510

Warden, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction,

Brooklyn Correctional Institution; and

State of Connecticut, Department of

Correction,

 
  Respondents July 28, 2010
       

 

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

 

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 31, 2009, the complainant made a request to the respondents for copies of “any and all statements, emails, that led to the transfer to [sic] inmate Sylvia on 7/12/09, also the transfer order that accompied [sic] him and his reason for transfer.” 

 

3.  It is found that, by letter dated August 5, 2009, the respondents informed the complainant that there were no records responsive to his request.

 

4.  It is found that, by letter dated August 10, 2009, the complainant attempted to clarify the request, described in paragraph 2, above, more specifically describing the records as follows: 

 

(a)  “a copy of the three statements Captain Lepoja showed me in reference of me on, that were written on [CN. 9601]. See attached blank copy of this form”;

 

(b)  “a copy of the statement signed by me in front of Lt. Cuprak on July 12, 2009 and a copy of the photograph taken by him”;

 

(c)  “a copy of the transfer order that accompied [sic] inmate Sylvia, and his reasons (legal) for transfer.”   

 

5.  It is found that, by letter dated August 13, 2009, the respondents informed the complainant that they had received, and were processing, the request described in paragraph 4, above, and that he “shall hear from this office in the near future.”

 

6.  It is found that, by letter dated August 21, 2009, the respondents informed the complainant that “the documents you requested…are now available for dissemination,” and that, upon receipt of payment in the amount of $1.25, such documents would be forwarded to him.  It is found that the complainant did not make payment to the respondents for such records.

 

7.  By letter of complaint, received and filed September 2, 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, as clarified by the request described in paragraph 4, above.

 

8.  It is found that, by letter dated October 9, 2009, the respondents forwarded, free of charge, three pages of records to the complainant.

 

9.  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.

 

10.  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.

 

11.  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.”

 

12.  It is found that, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraphs 2 and 4, 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. 

 

13.  It is found that, with regard to the request described in paragraph 2, above, the initial search conducted by the respondents revealed no records because such request incorrectly stated the date of the complainant’s transfer, and that the respondents’ search for records was based upon such incorrect date.  It is further found, however, that at some point, the respondents became aware of such error, and, upon learning of the correct date, conducted an additional search for records relating to the complainant’s transfer.  It is found that, with regard to the complainant’s request for emails, described in paragraph 2, above, the respondents do not maintain any emails concerning the complainant’s transfer. 

 

14.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act with regard to the request for emails, described in paragraph 2, above.  

 

15.  It is found that, with regard to the request for statements, described in paragraphs 2 and 4(a), above, the respondents conducted a diligent search for such statements, and that such search revealed two handwritten statements, not three, which records were withheld from the complainant as a “safety and security risk,” pursuant to 1-210(b)(18), G.S. 

 

16.  It is found that, contrary to the complainant’s statement that he was shown copies of the statements described in paragraph 15, above, it is found that the respondents did not show such statements to the complainant at any time.

 

17.  The respondents, prior to the hearing in this matter, submitted the records described in paragraph 15, above, to the Commission, for an in camera review.  Such records shall be identified herein as IC 2009-510-01 and IC 2009-510-02. 

 

18.  With regard to the respondents’ 1-210(b)(18) G.S., claim of exemption, that section 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.

 

            19.  After careful review of IC 2009-510-01 and IC 2009-510-02, and based upon the evidence produced at the hearing in this matter, it is found that the Commissioner of Correction has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of IC 2009-510-01 and IC 2009-510-02, described in paragraphs 15 and 16, above, may result in a safety risk, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18), G.S.

 

20.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act with regard to the requests for statements described in paragraphs 2 and 4(a), above. 

 

21.  With regard to the request for statements described in paragraphs 2 and 4(b), above, and the request for the photograph, described in paragraph 4(b), above, it is found that the respondents provided the complainant with copies of two statements signed by the complainant, one dated July 9, 2009 and one dated July 17, 2009, and a copy of a photograph dated July 9, 2009.   

 

22.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant stated his belief that he signed an additional statement on July 12, 2009, and that a photograph of him was taken on July 12, 2009, and that the respondents have withheld such records from him.

 

23.  However, based upon the evidence presented at the hearing, it is found that the respondents conducted a diligent search for all records responsive to the request described in paragraphs 2 and 4(b), above, and that they provided the complainant with all responsive records they maintain.

 

24.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act with regard to the request for statements and the photograph, described in paragraphs 2 and 4(b), above.

 

25.  With regard to the request for the “transfer order” described in paragraphs 2 and 4(c), above, it is found, based upon the testimony presented at the hearing in this matter, that no such “transfer order” document, as described by the complainant, exists. 

 

26.  The respondents submitted, for in camera review, a computer printout, containing information regarding the complainant’s transfer, which record the respondents claim is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(18), G.S., and specifically 1-210(b)(18)(G), G.S.  Such record shall be identified herein as IC 2009-510-003.     

 

            27.  After careful review of the in camera record, and after consideration of the evidence presented at the hearing regarding such record, it is found that the Commissioner of Correction has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of IC 2009-510-03, may result in a safety risk, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18), G.S.

  

28.  Based upon the foregoing, it is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by withholding IC 2009-510-003, from 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 dismissed.

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 28, 2010.

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

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 #208614

Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center

986 Norwich-New London Turnpike

Uncasville, CT  06382

 

Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction,

Brooklyn Correctional Institution; and

State of Connecticut, Department of Correction

c/o Nicole Anker, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2009-510FD/cac/8/5/2010