Mortality Data and Related Policies, 2000-2020

Jonathan Rudenberg filed this request on behalf of COVID Prison Project with the Department of Correction of Delaware.


From: COVID Prison Project

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

Jason P. Miller
Chief, Media Relations
Delaware Department of Correction
245 McKee Road
Dover, DE 19904
(302) 857-5232
(302) 379-4048

To Jason Miller:

Under the Delaware Freedom of Information Act § 100001 et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records that:

– Those which include time and date of all instances of death occurring in the offender population between January 2000 and December 2020.

– Those which indicate the total number of individuals in Delaware Department of Correction (DDOC) custody who died by any cause, separated monthly, from January 2000 to December 2020.

– Monthly population records that include the total number of deaths occurring among people in the custody of the DDOC between January 2000 and December 2020.

– Certificates of death for all individuals in DDOC custody who died between January 2000 and December 2020.

Additionally, I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of any and all DDOC policies, regulations, and procedures, pertaining to...

– Investigations of in-custody deaths.

– Requirements for the performance of an autopsy or post-mortem medical examination of individuals who die while in DDOC custody.

– The reporting of in-custody deaths to other governmental agencies.

– Next-of-kin notification in the event of in-custody deaths.

If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform me. However, I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of Delaware's death and mortality policies. This information is not being sought for commercial purposes.

The Delaware Freedom of Information Act does not mention a specific response time, but if access to the records I am requesting will take longer than a reasonable amount of time, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Thank you for considering my request


Forrest Behne
Policy Director, COVID Prison Project
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Office: (919) 391-7962
340 MacNider Hall | Campus Box 7240
333 South Columbia Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 15 business days, as the statute requires.

This request is filed by Jonathan Rudenberg, a citizen of Delaware, in coordination with COVID Prison Project.

From: Department of Correction

Mr. Behne and or Mr. Rudenberg;

In regards to the recent DE DOC FOIA request for records, notifications, investigations,
death certificates and performance of autopsy or post mortem medical examinations
of all instances of death while in DDOC custody from 2000 – 2020. It appears from the
addresses provided that the requestors are not a citizen of Delaware. For that reason
and the others below, this DE DOC FOIA request is being denied at this time. Please
refer to the below Delaware Statutes.

29 Del. C. §10001. Declaration of Policy.
It is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that our citizens shall have the opportunity to observe the performance of public officials and to monitor the decisions that are made by such officials in formulating and executing public policy; and further, it is vital that citizens have easy access to public records in order that the society remain free and democratic. Toward these ends, and to further the accountability of government to the citizens of this State, this chapter is adopted, and shall be construed.

11 Del. C. §4322. Protection of Records.

1. The presentence report (other than a presentence report prepared for the Superior Court or the Court of Common Pleas), the preparole report, the supervision history and all other case records obtained in the discharge of official duty by any member or employee of the Department shall be privileged and shall not be disclosed directly or indirectly to anyone other than the courts as defined in § 4302 of this title, the Board of Parole, the Board of Pardons, the Attorney General and the Deputies Attorney General or others entitled by this chapter to receive such information;

(d) The Department of Correction Policies and Procedures, including any Policy, Procedure, Post Order, Facility Operational Procedure or Administrative Regulation adopted by a Bureau, facility or department of the Department of Correction shall be confidential, and not subject to disclosure except upon the written authority of the Commissioner.

29 Del. C. §10002. Definitions.
(l) “Public record” is information of any kind, owned, made, used, retained, received, produced, composed, drafted or otherwise compiled or collected, by any public body, relating in any way to public business, or in any way of public interest, or in any way related to public purposes, regardless of the physical form or characteristic by which such information is stored, recorded or reproduced. For purposes of this chapter, the following records shall not be deemed public:
(1) Any personnel, medical or pupil file, the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy, under this legislation or under any State or federal law as it relates to personal privacy;
(4) Criminal files and criminal records, the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy. Any person may, upon proof of identity, obtain a copy of the person’s personal criminal record. All other criminal records and files are closed to public scrutiny. Agencies holding such criminal records may delete any information, before release, which would disclose the names of witnesses, intelligence personnel and aids or any other information of a privileged and confidential nature;
(6) Any records specifically exempted from public disclosure by statute or common law;
(9) Any records pertaining to pending or potential litigation which are not records of any court;

With this response your DE DOC FOIA request is hereby considered as answered and
will be closed at this time.

Tim Martin