18-20 year olds in Massachusetts County Houses of Correction (Essex County Sheriff)

Joshua Dankoff filed this request with the Essex County Sheriff of Essex County, MA.
Multi Request 18-20 year olds in Massachusetts County Houses of Correction
Due Nov. 18, 2021
Est. Completion None
Awaiting Response


From: Joshua Dankoff

Dear County Sheriff's Office,

This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M. G. L. Chapter 66, Section 10), for documents in your Department’s possession regarding 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds in your custody. I am writing on behalf of Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ), a nonprofit organization advocating for equitable youth justice in Massachusetts.

With respect to the form of production, we note that relevant regulations require the production of records in an accessible, commonly used electronic form, to the extent feasible. See 950 CMR 32.04(5)(d). Record custodians are also required to implement new record keeping systems and databases in such a way as to allow for “retrieval of public portions of records to provide maximum public access.” See 950 CMR 32.07(1)(e). Extraction of such data from a database or electronic record system does not constitute creating a new record. See 950 CMR 32.07(1)(f). Printing these records from a database or electronic system, redacting them with a marker, and then re-scanning them, is generally not consistent with these regulations; this process provides the digital records neither in the preferred form nor in a “searchable machine-readable form.” 950 CMR 32.04(5)(d). If necessary, we welcome reasonable suggested modifications pursuant to 950 CMR 32.06(2)(g). Per Attorney Gen. v. Dist. Attorney for Plymouth Dist., 484 Mass. 260, 141 N.E.3d 429 (2020), compiling information from a database is not tantamount to creating a new record that would otherwise be precluded under public records law. Specifically: “Where public records are in electronic form, a public records request that requires a government entity to search its electronic database to extract requested data does not mean that the extracted data constitute the creation of a new record, which would not be required, under the public records law. " Id. at 442 to 443. Thus, we request that your department query its database and provide a response to the records request below.

1. A list of every field or type of data tracked in your electronic database (e.g. “Race”, “Date of Birth”, “date of admission”, etc.)

2. We request an extracted record in excel or other computer readable format of your data management system/case management system with line level data for the following fields for all people in your physical custody at some point in fiscal years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 and who entered your custody between the ages of 18 years old and 20 years old and 364 days (ie prior to their 21st birthday) either pre-trial or sentenced:
- Date of admission
- Reason of admission (pre-trial, serving sentence, etc)
- Lead charge/most serious offense or its equivalent
- Date of Birth (or, if this is deemed to be information subject to an exemption, then please include month and year of birth (though not day))
- Date of release
- Length of stay
- Length of sentence (if applicable)
- Race
- Ethnicity
- Gender/sex
- Zipcode of home/last residence
- Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity
- Date(s) of disciplinary action taken, if any
- Type of disciplinary action taken, if any
- Days spent (or dates of admission to and release from) in Restrictive Housing, segregated housing unit or any other unit where an incarcerated individual stays in their room for a minimum of 21 hours.
- Whether the individual is/was housed in a specialized unit (such as the PEACE unit in Suffolk or PACT in Middlesex) as applicable.

3. Average annual cost of HOC incarceration for an 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old, separated by the costs of pre-trial detention and sentenced. If there are special units associated with this age group, please break down costs for general population and the special units.

4. Cost of one day in restrictive housing or when individuals are held for 21 hours or more.

Thank you for considering our request. We look forward to hearing back from you and working with you. We are available to answer any questions regarding this data request or our work. We can be reached by email through the address provided, or by phone at 617.338.1050.


Joshua Dankoff
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Citizens for Juvenile Justice

Sana Fadel
Deputy Director
Citizens for Juvenile Justice

From: Essex County Sheriff

Dear Mr. Dankoff:

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of and in response to your recent public records request sent via email to William Raynard of the Essex County Sheriff's Department dated November 4, 2021. I serve as Asst. Legal Counsel to the Essex County Sheriff's Department.

As you can imagine, your request has come amidst the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, a time during which the Department's staff and resources have been diverted routinely to the operation of the Department's facilities amidst this Pandemic, and aimed at containing and suppressing the virus. As such, the same Department staff that would assist me with respect to reviewing and responding to your requests are the same staff who have and continue to function in an all-hands-on-deck manner amidst the pandemic, or who are themselves currently out of the workplace with COVID-related issues. During this time period, the Department has and continues to utilize its best efforts in reviewing and responding to public records requests which it has received throughout this time period. As you can imagine, yours is not the only request received by the Department. Add in the holiday season and this is an extremely difficult time period for the Department to respond to public records requests in a timely and expedited manner. As such, I would ask for your patience during this time period as the Department responds to your specific request.

In direct response to your four (4) specifically enumerated requests, the Department is in the process of reviewing and attempting to determine what, including the volume with respect thereto, materials are in its possession responsive to your extensive request, including the amount of time that will be required to search for, review and redact responsive records, if necessary. Once the Department completes that process, it reserves the right to provide you with a written good faith estimate of the anticipated cost to be incurred in responding to the request, as well as the ability to assert specific exemptions pursuant to the public records law should they apply. In the alternative and if it determines that a good faith estimate is not warranted, it will be providing you with a substantive response to your request.

In the event that you disagree with the Department's decision, you have the right to appeal this decision to the Supervisor of Records and the right to seek judicial review of an unfavorable decision by commencing a civil action in Superior Court pursuant to M.G.L. c. 66, S. 10A and the provisions of 950 CMR 32.00.

Thank you for your attention to this matter..

Scott B. Sullivan
Asst. Legal Counsel
Essex County Sheriff's Department


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