FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
James Harnage,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-221
Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of
Correction, Garner Correctional Institution;
and State of Connecticut, Department of
Correction,
 
  Respondents March 9, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 10, 2010, at which time the complainant and respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. For purposes of hearing, this matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2010-343; James Harnage v. CC Perreault, FOI Liaison, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Garner Correctional Institution; CS Stowell, CC Bent, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Garner Correctional Institution; CC Daly, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Corrigan-Radgowski  Correctional Institution; State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; Ms. Acosta, State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut Health Center, Correctional Managed Health Care, Garner Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut Health Center, Correctional Managed Health Care.  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 24, 2010, the complainant, while a resident of Corrigan Correctional Institution,  made a written request for copies of his master file “and all of its contents.”

 

3.      It is found that the complainant was transferred to the Garner Correctional Institution during the first week of March, 2010.

 

4.      It is found that the complainant’s written request of February 24, 2010 was sent to Garner, where it was received on March 16, 2010.

 

5.      It is found that when the complainant arrived at Garner CI, he made a written request on March 12, 2010 for access to his master file.

 

6.      By letter of complaint filed April 6, 2010, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of his master file. 

 

7.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records” in part 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.

 

8.      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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours … or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.

 

9.      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.”

 

10.  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.

 

11.  It is found that, unbeknownst to the complainant, no one at Garner CI with responsibility to provide records to the complainant received his requests for access to his master file.

 

12.  It is found that the complainant again made a written request for access to his complete master file on May 11, 2010.

 

13.  It is found that on May 12, 2010, the respondents informed the complainant that he should request a file review with his counselor.

 

14.   It is found that on June 8, 2010, the respondents informed the complainant that he had a master file review scheduled for June 17, 2010. 

 

15.   It is found that the complainant reviewed a redacted version of the master file on June 17 or 19, 2010.

 

16.   It is found that the respondents claim that portions of the master file are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(18), G.S., which exempts:

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.

17.   It is found that the respondents withheld from disclosure the following types of information:

 

a.       Data about the complainant from the National Crime Information Center (“NCIC”) database;

 

b.      The victim notification form, if any.

 

c.       The complainant’s Pre-Sentence Investigation reports, including his rap sheets, narratives of the offenses for which he is convicted, victims’ statements, and police report;

 

d.      The complainant’s Classification Review, including his prior convictions, protective orders, out-of-state criminal information, and rap sheet. (The respondents did not withhold the complainant’s “scores,” which ratings are assigned by the respondents corresponding to an inmate’s status concerning medical needs, escape risk, severity of offense, and factors.) 

 

e.       Visitor information, such as home addresses and other inmates a visitor may wish to visit.

 

18.   It is found that the Commissioner had reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of the records described in paragraph 17, above may result in a safety risk.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by withholding such portions of the master file. 

 

19.    The complainant contended that the respondents failed to show him a copy of the “profile” in his master file.  It is found that a “profile” identifies another inmate or staff member from whom the inmate must be separated.

 

20.   It is found that at the time of the complainant’s review, his master file did not contain a profile. 

 

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 March 9, 2011.

 

 

____________________________

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:

 

James Harnage #149472

Cheshire C I

900 Highland Avenue

Cheshire, CT 06410

 

Warden, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction,

Garner Correctional Institution;

and State of Connecticut, Department

of Correction,Chief, Police Department,

C/o Nancy Kase O’Brasky, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2010-221FD/sw/3/14/2011