Sen. Kissel: Judiciary Committee Raises Bill Prohibiting Inmates from Accessing Correctional Officer Personal Information

February 5, 2010

Hartford, CT – The Judiciary Committee today raised a bill that, if passed into law, will prohibit inmates from using the Freedom of Information Act to access correctional staff personnel records. The bill was just one of twenty raised bills and concepts during the Judiciary Committee’s first meeting of 2010.

“Getting this enacted into law is one of my top priorities this session,” said Sen. Kissel. “We came so close to getting it voted favorably out of the Senate last year, but as things often do here, it fell through at the last minute. I am pleased to see that it is already moving forward with the full support of the Judiciary Committee and I will continue to work hard during the session to see that it is becomes law as soon as possible.”

Last year HB 6709, An Act Concerning the Department of Correction was proposed that would have prohibited 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.” Concerns expressed by the Freedom of Information Commission delayed its implementation last year, but efforts have been underway to gather the necessary support.

“In talking with correctional officers who have been targets of inmate hostility, it became clear to me that we need to take every possible precaution to protect COs from possible retaliation,” said Sen. Kissel. “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. I worked hard last year to get everyone on the same page and I have already started speaking with key players again this year. I’m feeling very positive that this bill will pass both the House and Senate by May.”