Posted on Apr 14, 2023 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Ltr. No. F23-02
April 14, 2023
Inmate Database Information

A requester asked PSD for a dataset consisting of selected fields from PSD’s Offendertrak correctional database system covering the period from 2000-2018.  After initially estimating fees of over a million dollars on the basis that it would have to verify all Offendertrak data against the inmates’ institutional files, which Requester had not asked for, PSD dropped its insistence on verifying all information and reduced its fee estimate to $290 for redactions to a single field after discussion with OIP.  The requester amended her request to drop the field to be redacted pending resolution of the appeal, but added inmate names to the requested fields.  PSD then asserted that it must check the status of every inmate name in the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center’s records so it could redact any whose convictions had later been expunged, at a cost of $5 per name plus additional fees for PSD’s time.  Following the appeal, OIP ultimately concluded that approximate fees should be $290 as PSD had earlier estimated, or $0 if Requester did not seek the “Release To” field of data.

In its opinion, OIP reconsidered its previous precedents concluding that inmate names must be disclosed without exception to the extent necessary to consider the effect of the statutes allowing expungement of a conviction, which had been adopted after OIP’s most recent opinion regarding inmate names.  OIP ultimately reaffirmed those precedents in concluding that PSD must disclose correctional directory information, including inmate names and locations, without application of the UIPA’s exceptions.  HRS § 92F-12(a)(4) (2012).  Even though in some instances an inmate may have been either a pretrial detainee who was not convicted, or had a conviction subsequently expunged, the limitation on dissemination of nonconviction data in section 846-9, HRS, does not override the UIPA’s disclosure mandate for correctional directory information because disclosure of correctional directory information still gives effect to the purposes of both the UIPA and chapter 846, HRS.  Alternatively, if section 846-9, HRS, was irreconcilable with the disclosure mandate for correctional directory information in section 92F-12(a)(4), HRS, the UIPA provision would be favored as the more specific law regarding correctional directory information.

OIP further concluded that PSD has no duty under the UIPA to ensure the accuracy and completion of information in its Offendertrak system or its other records.  Because it has no duty to do so, PSD cannot delay responding to a record request to verify the accuracy and completion of the information in the requested records, or charge a requester for its time and costs incurred in doing so.  OIP also concluded that a specified set of fields for all inmates in Offendertrak for a specified year or years is readily retrievable by PSD. HRS § 92F-11(c).

Finally, OIP concluded based on the UIPA’s privacy exception that PSD could redact from the “Release To” field personal contact information of inmates and third parties, information revealing the marital and familial status of inmates and third parties, and program or facility names or other information showing the specific location where an inmate fully released from PSD custody will be living.  See HRS § 92F-13(1) (2012) (setting out exception for information whose disclosure would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy).  However, PSD did not establish that the UIPA’s frustration exception applies to information in the “Release To” field, so it could not withhold information on that basis.  See HRS § 92F-13(3) (2012) (setting out exception for information whose disclosure would frustrate a legitimate government function).  OIP also concluded that in addition to being overbroad, PSD’s redactions were done incorrectly, and OIP provided additional guidance on how to properly redact electronic information.

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