Holmes v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
The Department of Corrections' Records Retention Schedule 12-3-1 provides that no records may be destroyed if there are pending or active Freedom of Information Act requests for such records. Thomas Holmes, an inmate, appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the Department of Correction and its commissioner violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide him with requested records. The FOIC found that on Nov. 16, 2011, Holmes made a written request for a copy of all records relating to a search of his cell on Nov. 15, 2011. The warden acknowledged receipt of the request and sent a copy to the deputy warden and the complainant's counselor supervisor on Nov. 18, 2011. On Dec. 3, 2011, the complainant pled guilty to disciplinary charges against him. All related paperwork except for the disciplinary report and the process summary was destroyed via a paper shredder. Thus, the particular records the complainant soughtan anonymous note and a statement of support by another inmatewere no longer maintained by the respondents. The statement of support, at the least, existed at the time of the request and such record or records existed or were maintained when the warden acknowledged the request. The respondents had notice of the request and did not inform the complainant that by pleading guilty to the disciplinary charge, he would effectively forfeit his access rights under the FOIA for the requested records. The respondents failed to ensure the preservation of the records requested by the complainant and violated C.G.S. §1-210(a) and §1-212(a) of the FOIA by failing to promptly provide the complainant with copies of the requested records. The respondents were directed to strictly comply with the violated provisions henceforth and were advised regarding the department's own Records Retention Schedule 12-3-1 barring the destruction of records for which there are pending FOIA requests.