FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
James Harnage,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-343
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,
 
  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 2010-221; James Harnage v. Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Garner Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction. 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 the complainant made a written request for access to his master file on March 12, 2010.

 

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

 

4.      It is found that on May 11, 2010, the complainant made a written request for copies of:

 

a.       My master file and its contents in entirety;

 

b.      My medical file and its contents in entirety; and

 

c.       A list … of all inmates and their corresponding inmate number… housed at either the Corrigan Correctional Institute or the Garner Correctional Institute for the period beginning January 2008 up to and including the date of your response…

 

5.      By letter of complaint filed June 1, 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 records.  The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty.

 

6.      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.

 

7.      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.

 

8.      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.”

 

9.      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.

 

10.  With respect to the complainant’s request for copies of his master file, described in paragraph 2.a, above, it is found that on May 12, 2010, the respondent Garner CI informed the complainant that he should request a file review with his counselor.

 

11.   It is found that on June 8, 2010, the respondent Garner CI informed the complainant that he had a master file review scheduled for June 17, 2010. 

 

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

 

13.   It is found that the respondent Department of Correction (“DOC”) claims 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.

14.   It is found that the respondent DOC 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.

 

15.   It is found that the Commissioner had reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of the records described in paragraph 14, above may result in a safety risk. 

 

16.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by withholding such portions of the master file.

 

17.   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.

 

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

 

19.   With respect to the complainant’s request for his medical records, described in paragraph 4.b, above, it is found that the respondent Correctional Managed Health Care provided records responsive to his request on June 30, 2010.

 

20.   The complainant adamantly insists, however, that he did not receive any of his mental health records, such as notes, reports and evaluations related to his suicide watch, a poem taken from him that the respondents considered to be indicative of the complainant’s intent to commit suicide, intake assessment forms, close observation checklists, progress notes related to the suicide watch, and other mental health records.

 

21.   The respondent Correctional Managed Health Care claims that it provided copies of the complainant’s mental health records when it provided copies of his medical records.  It is found that mental health records are a part of the complainant’s medical records.

 

22.   Although both the complainant and the respondent’s witness testified credibly, it is found that the respondent Correctional Managed Health Care failed to prove that it provided the mental health records to the complainant.  Although the respondent’s witness testified that she made 110 copies for the complainant, the respondent provided no evidence as to the total number of pages of the complainant’s medical file.  In addition, although the respondent’s witness testified as to her general practice when making copies of medical files, she had no specific memory of making the complainant’s copies and the respondent presented no evidence that all the pages of the medical file were copied for the complainant.  

 

23.   It is found, therefore, that the respondent Correctional Managed Health Care failed to prove that it provided copies of all the records that the complainant requested. 

 

24.   Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondent Correctional Managed Health Care violated the disclosure provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212, G.S.

 

25.   With respect to the complainant’s request for a list of inmates and inmate numbers in Corrigan and Garner Correctional Institutions, described in paragraph 4.c, above, it is found that the respondent Perreault acknowledged receipt of the complainant’s request on May 13, 2010, two days after the complainant’s request.  It is found that the respondent Perreault informed the complainant that the respondents would not provide the list of inmates to the complainant, based on “safety, security, and privacy reasons.”[1]

 

26.   Subsection (G) of 1-210(b)(18), G.S., exempts from disclosure “[l]ogs or other documents that contain information on the movement or assignment of inmates or staff at correctional institutions or facilities” where the commissioner reasonably believes that disclosure may result in a safety risk.

 

27.   It is found that the list of inmates and inmate numbers requested by the complainant are “documents that contain information on the … assignment of inmates … at correctional institutions or facilities,” within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18)(G), G.S.

 

28.   It is further found that the commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of such records may result in a safety risk.  It is found that disclosure of such information within the correctional environment may endanger other inmates by making it much easier to learn inmates’ locations and names, and, through the DOC website, to learn of inmates’ offenses, length of time in the facility, and discharge dates.

 

29.   It is concluded that the  respondents proved that the commissioner had reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of a list of inmate names and numbers may result in a security risk, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18), G.S.

 

30.   Accordingly, it is concluded that DOC did not violate the FOI Act by withholding the list of inmates and inmate numbers from the complainant.

 

31.  The Commission declines to consider the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondents.

 

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

 

 

1.      Forthwith, the respondent Correctional Managed Health Care shall provide to the complainant, at no charge, a complete copy of his medical records, including his mental health records.

 

2.      The complaint against the respondents Perrault, Stowell, Bent, Daly and the State of Connecticut, Department of Correction 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

 

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

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/2010-343FD/sw/3/14/2011

 



[1] The respondents did not pursue a claim of exemption based on privacy at the hearing in this matter.