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
(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.