Q: I’m trying to find out how to access a record from the parole office to determine the date a certain parolee absconded. Can you help? Is there a sample letter for making a request?
A: While I did not locate any law directly addressing the California Public Records Act and specific details within parole records (such as date of absconsion), the presumption is that records held by government agencies are subject to disclosure under the PRA unless some exemption applies. For information regarding arrestees, Police are required to release “[t]he full name and occupation of every individual arrested by the agency, the individual’s physical description including date of birth, color of eyes and hair, sex, height and weight, the time and date of arrest, the time and date of booking, the location of the arrest, the factual circumstances surrounding the arrest, the amount of bail set, the time and manner of release or the location where the individual is currently being held, and all charges the individual is being held upon, including any outstanding warrants from other jurisdictions and parole or probation holds.” Gov’t Code § 6254(f)(1).
If you have not done so already, I always recommend making your request in writing, and then seeing how the agency responds. Once you get back a written response, you can further strategize on how to proceed. I have pasted below the form that I typically use for PRA requests, which includes some language at the end regarding the agency’s duty under the Act. Between this and the exemplar found on the FAC’s website, hopefully you can come up with a straightforward request for the records you seek.
It appears from the CDCR website that you need to direct your inquiry to the Division of Adult Parole Operations, and include in your written request: Name, DOB, CDCR #, return address, scope of request (exactly what you are looking for). Below is a sample letter.
Dear Sir or Madam [or name of head of Division of Adult Parole Operations],
Pursuant to the California Public Records Act, Government Code § 6250 et seq., I am writing to formally request records from the [Division of Adult Parole Operations, Case Records] [“relating to the parole of ____ at [institution name(s)] and following his release”]. Specifically, I am requesting any records relating to the date that [____] was recorded as having absconded in violation of his parole. Here is the parolee’s information:
· [CDCR #]
Please make copies of the requested records available within the time period set forth by Government Code § 6253(c) [and mail them to my return address below]. Of course, electronic delivery of the records is acceptable, and any records may be emailed to me at [email].
If I can provide any clarification that will help expedite the response to this request, please contact me by telephone at [phone number], or by email at the address above.
Return Address: [return address]
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