U Memo 17-4

Posted on May 16, 2017 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 17-4
May 16, 2017
Names of Inmates in or Awaiting Placement
in Furlough or Community Custody

Requester made a request to the Department of Public Safety (PSD) for a list of all people currently on work furlough and/or community custody, or approved for such status but awaiting placement.  PSD’s housing unit assignment for inmates is maintained on PSD’s Offendertrak System database.  PSD does not maintain specific lists for furlough and community custody inmates, but the database can sort data regarding the “inmate population by housing or custody.”

PSD denied access to the requested lists on the basis that the information is beyond inmate directory information that is required to be disclosed by section 92F-12(a)(4), HRS.   PSD’s denial informed Requester it would only provide a list of all inmates who are housed at correctional facilities that have work furlough programs.

OIP agreed with PSD that furlough housing assignments and community custody status of inmates under PSD’s jurisdiction do not constitute “directory information” about inmates that is required to be public under section 92F-12(a)(4), HRS.  However, OIP previously found that the UIPA’s exception to disclosure for records that would cause the frustration of a legitimate government function, if disclosed, did not apply to an inmate’s “status in the correctional system.”  OIP Op. Ltr. No. 01-03 at 9.  As OIP’s formal opinions are considered precedent, and because PSD has not met its burden to justify nondisclosure of the requested lists containing information about an inmate’s status in the correctional system, OIP found that PSD must disclose lists of inmates in furlough or community custody subject to limitations.  OIP recognized that there may be circumstances for which disclosure of the status of a particular inmate could raise specific and articulable security concerns.  In such cases, the inmate’s status as in furlough or community custody may be segregated from a list.

OIP also found that PSD’s policies are not confidentiality statutes and do not protect an inmate’s furlough or community custody status from public disclosure.

Finally, OIP found that no significant privacy interests would be implicated by disclosure of a list of inmates in or awaiting placement in furlough or community custody.  Inmates’ minimal privacy interests, when balanced against the public interest in disclosure, do not warrant withholding the lists from public access.  Thus, the UIPA exception to disclosure for records, which, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, is not applicable.