2017 Vermont Statutes
Title 28 - Public Institutions and Corrections
Chapter 3 - Administration Of The Department
§ 107 Offender and inmate records; confidentiality; exceptions; corrections
§ 107. Offender and inmate records; confidentiality; exceptions; corrections
(a) The Commissioner shall adopt a rule pursuant to 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 defining what are "offender and inmate records," as that phrase is used in this section.
(b) Offender and inmate records maintained by the Department are exempt from public inspection and copying under the Public Records Act and shall be kept confidential, except that the Department:
(1) Shall release or permit inspection of such records if required under federal or State law, including 42 U.S.C. §§ 10805 and 10806 (Protection and Advocacy Systems).
(2) Shall release or permit inspection of such records pursuant to a court order for good cause shown or, in the case of an offender or inmate seeking records relating to him or her in litigation, in accordance with discovery rules.
(3) Shall release or permit inspection of such records to a State or federal prosecutor as part of a criminal investigation pursuant to a court order issued ex parte if the court finds that the records may be relevant to the investigation. The information in the records may be used for any lawful purpose but shall not otherwise be made public.
(4) Shall release or permit inspection of such records to the Department for Children and Families for the purpose of child protection, unless otherwise prohibited by law.
(5) Shall release or permit inspection of designated offender and inmate records to specific persons, or to any person, in accordance with rules that the Commissioner shall adopt pursuant to 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, provided that the Commissioner shall redact any information that may compromise the safety of any person prior to releasing or permitting inspection of such records under the rules. The Commissioner shall authorize release or inspection of offender and inmate records under these rules:
(A) When the public interest served by disclosure of a record outweighs the privacy, security, or other interest in keeping the record confidential.
(B) To provide an offender or inmate access to records relating to him or her if access is not otherwise guaranteed under this subsection, unless providing such access would reveal information that is confidential or exempt from disclosure under a law other than this section, would unreasonably interfere with the Department's ability to perform its functions, or may compromise the health, safety, security, or rehabilitation of the offender or inmate or of another person. The rules may specify circumstances under which the Department may limit the number of requests that will be fulfilled per calendar year, as long as the Department fulfills at least one request per calendar year excluding any release of records ordered by a court, and at least one additional request in the same calendar year limited to records not in existence at the time of the original request or not within the scope of the original request. The rules also may specify circumstances when the offender's or inmate's right of access will be limited to an inspection overseen by an agent or employee of the Department. The rules shall reflect the Department's obligation not to withhold a record in its entirety on the basis that it contains some confidential or exempt content, to redact such content, and to make the redacted record available.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of 1 V.S.A. chapter 5, subchapter 3 (Public Records Act) that govern the time periods for a public agency to respond to a request for a public record and rights of appeal, the Commissioner shall adopt a rule pursuant to 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 governing response and appeal periods and appeal rights in connection with a request by an offender or inmate to access records relating to him or her maintained by the Department. The rule shall provide for a final exhaustion of administrative appeals no later than 45 days from the Department's receipt of the initial request.
(d) An offender or inmate may request that the Department correct a fact in a record maintained by the Department that is material to his or her rights or status, except for a determination of fact that resulted from a hearing or other proceeding that afforded the offender or inmate notice and opportunity to be heard on the determination. The rule required under subsection (c) of this section shall reference that requests for such corrections are handled in accordance with the Department's grievance process. If the Department issues a final decision denying a request under this subsection, the offender or inmate may appeal the decision to the Civil Division of the Superior Court pursuant to Rule 74 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court shall not set aside the Department's decision unless it is clearly erroneous. (Added 2015, No. 137 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. May 25, 2016.)