Posted on May 26, 2005 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 05-14
May 26, 2005
Withholding of Inmate Records and
Regulations on Inmate Access Rights

In response to a request by the Department of Public Safety (“PSD”), the OIP reached the following conclusions on the withholding of inmate records and regulations on inmate access rights.

(1) The UIPA does not permit PSD to make a blanket denial of access to inmates for all records in their institutional files. Section 92F-22(1)(B), by its express language, only allows PSD to withhold records that constitute “reports” prepared or compiled during the criminal law enforcement process.

(2) PSD may require that inmates deliver any UIPA requests for records to PSD by regular U.S. mail. Such regulation is valid under the UIPA because this requirement does not deny or restrict the inmates’ ability to make such requests, but only regulates the manner in which the requests are made.

(3) PSD may impose restrictions on inmates’ rights under the UIPA under the same standard applicable to the imposition of restrictions on inmates’ constitutional rights, i.e., where those restrictions are reasonably related to legitimate penological interests.

full text