FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Ian Wright,

 
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-645
State of Connecticut, Department of
Correction, Cheshire Correctional
Institution; and State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction,
 
  Respondents June 22, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 19, 2011, at which time the complainant and 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 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 September 14, 2010, the complainant requested that the respondents preserve and permit him to inspect “surveillance footage of the North Block corridor/hallway, at Cheshire, on September 13, 2010, at or around 8:15 to 9:00 a.m.”  It is found that the complainant was issued a disciplinary ticket for an incident alleged to have occurred at that time and place.

 

3.      It is found that the complainant was disciplined for such incident but was not permitted to view the surveillance tape at his disciplinary hearing.

 

4.      It is found that the respondents denied the complainant’s request to inspect the surveillance tape on October 8, 2010.  It is found that the respondents did preserve the tape, however, as the complainant requested.

 

5.      By letter of complaint filed October 15, 2010, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to permit him to inspect the surveillance recording described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

6.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records” 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, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

8.      It is concluded that the surveillance recording requested by the complainant is a public record within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

 

9.      The respondents claim that the recording is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(18), G.S., which provides in relevant part:

 

Nothing 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...

 

10.   It is found that the surveillance footage requested by the complainant was made from one of several mounted cameras in Cheshire CI for the purpose of monitoring and recording inmate activity.  It is found that disclosure of the recording would reveal gaps and blind spots in coverage that may create a risk of harm to inmates and staff. 

 

11.   It is found that the commissioner of correction has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of the recording may result in a safety risk in a correctional institution, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18), G.S.

 

12.   It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act when they did not permit the complainant to inspect the recording described in paragraph 2, above.  See Jose Calderon v. FOI Liaison, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Northern Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Docket #2010-046; Robin Elliott v. Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Docket #2008-733.

 

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 June 22,  2011.

 

 

__________________________

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:

 

Ian Wright #286236

Garner Correctional Institution

50 Nunnawauk Road

Newtown, CT  06470

 

State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Cheshire Correctional Institution;

and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction

c/o Nancy Kase O’Brasky, Esq.

State of Connecticut, Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT  06109

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2010-645/FD/cac/6/23/2011