In document dump, DOC employee violated the privacy rights of formerly incarcerated people for political purposesRichard Ferruccio, DOC prison guard and President of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers (RIBCO) union, released the records of several formerly incarcerated individuals during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on April 7 as a part of an ad hominem attack…
Published on May 27, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist
On May 18 Uprise RI conducted an experiment. We sent an Access to Public Records Act (APRA) request to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (DOC) for the discipline records of four people incarcerated at the ACI.
We sent the request to J.R. Ventura, who is Chief of Information and Public Relations Officer at DOC. We chose the four incarcerated people at random, trying to pick people incarcerated in a wide variety of circumstances. Since the people chosen were random, we are not listing their names here.
Six days later Rhode Island DOC, as expected, refused the APRA request on various grounds. Nicole DiLibero, Executive Legal Council for DOC, wrote, “We have had an opportunity to review your requests and have determined that they are not public as pursuant to [Rhode Island Law]…
“…the records requested are for named individuals, some sentenced, some awaiting trial, and some released and, thus, they are personal individually identifiable records and/or the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” continued the Attorney DiLibero.
“Further, these records are … investigatory records pertaining to possible violations of statute, rule or regulation and otherwise constitute work product exempt pursuant to [Rhode Island General Law].”
“Finally, the privacy rights involved outweigh the public interest in disclosure of the records requested in this matter,” concluded Attorney DiLibero.
Attorney DiLibero added that if Uprise RI were “able to provide a release signed by each individual authorizing the release of their personal prison discipline records, the records will be provided to you.”
The denial of the APRA request was pretty cut and dry. The discipline records of past and present people incarcerated in Rhode Island are not available to the public.
How then, was Richard Ferruccio, DOC prison guard and President of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers (RIBCO) union, allowed to release the records of several formerly incarcerated individuals during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on April 7 as a part of an ad hominem attack? Uprise RI made an ordinary request to the Rhode Island Senate for the written testimony from the April 7 Senate Judiciary hearing, and we were given pages and pages of prison disciplinary records of exactly the kind asked for in our rejected APRA request.
Ferruccio was testifying against S2631, a bill to limit the use of solitary confinement at the ACI. Prison officials, such as DOC Director Patricia Coyne-Fague and Union President Ferruccio, oppose the legislation. During his testimony, Ferruccio made it clear that he was presenting the records to the committee and the public in an attempt to undermine the testimony of formerly incarcerated people who had testified before previous General Assembly committee hearing.
“I… provided this committee with some facts regarding the criminal history of some of the inmates that testified in the House Finance hearing,” Ferruccio told the Senate Judiciary Committee members. “A number of people came in and thought it was appropriate to testify to House Finance about the solitary confinement bill. That same group, along with many others, testified in Judiciary. I will provide you with a copy of every inmates criminal history and their discipline record, so you can basically get to the facts of what you hear today.”
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Uprise RI spoke to Greg Pare, Rhode Island Senate Spokesperson who told me that from the point of view of the Senate, all written testimony is public testimony. Uprise RI also reached out to the Department of Corrections who declined to comment until they had time to parse the story.
Here’s Ferrucio’s complete testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
To protect the identity of the formerly incarcerated people outed by Ferruccio, Uprise RI will not be sharing the pages in their unredacted form. Here is a sample page. Not that the DOC redacted only the formerly incarcerated person’s social security number. Uprise RI redacted the person’s name and prison id number.