Sen. Kissel: Bill Protecting Correctional Staff Personnel Files Moves Forward

April 3, 2009

Judiciary Committee votes yes on bill prohibiting inmates from accessing CO personnel files
Senator John A. Kissel (R-Enfield) said today that a bill was voted out of the Judiciary Committee that will prohibit inmates from obtaining correctional staff personnel files through the Freedom of Information (FOI) process. “I was very pleased with the unanimous support of this bill” said Sen. Kissel following the Judiciary Committee vote this afternoon. “This is a significant step towards increasing correctional staff safety and I was happy to play a part in moving this bill forward through the legislative process.”

Section one of HB 6709, An Act Concerning the Department of Correction prohibits the Commissioner of the Department of Correction from disclosing “the personnel or medical file or any similar file including, but not limited to, a record of a departmental security investigation or investigation of a discrimination complaint of a current or former employee of the of the Department of Correction to any individual committed to the custody or supervision of the Commissioner of Correction.”

From 2004 to March, 2009 there were twenty-two separate FOI requests made by inmates on a number of DOC staff members. DOC believes, based on ten separate cases of misuse, that misuse of the FOI process presents a severe safety risk to staff as well as to their families and other private citizens.

“In talking with the Department of Correction and Correctional Officer representatives, I thought it most urgent to pass this legislation. Not only is the safety of correctional staff being threatened through misuse of the FOI process, but the safety of their families and other private citizens is also at risk,” said Sen. Kissel. “I worked very hard to make sure everyone was on the same page in regards to this specific portion of the bill and the unanimous Judiciary Committee vote in support of it today was very encouraging. I am very hopeful that this will make it through the House and Senate in the near future and I will certainly be monitoring it closely throughout the rest of the session.”