October 8, 1993







IN RE: Edwin Adkins/Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex






This appeal originated in a request for records submitted by Mr. Edwin Adkins to the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex (EKCC) on August 20, 1993. Mr. Adkins, an inmate at that facility, requested "a copy of all write-ups and Adjustment Committee Decisions and all evidence, statements, lab results, Chain of Evidence forms, for all write ups in [his] Institutional file beginning 4/3/81 to the present date." On August 23, Ms. Martha Prater, Records Custodian, responded to Mr. Adkins' request, advising him as follows: "Need to be specific as to date & category. Resubmit." Mr. Adkins asks that this Office review the action of EKCC relative to his request and declare the facility in violation of the Open Records Law.


The issue presented in this appeal is whether Mr. Adkins described the documents he wished to inspect with sufficient specificity. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that Mr. Adkins' request was sufficiently specific, and that EKCC erred in denying his request.


This Office has previously recognized that although the purpose and intent of the Open Records Act is to permit the "free and open examination of public records . . .," this right of access is not absolute. As a precondition to inspection, a requesting party must identify with "reasonable particularity" those documents which he wishes to review. OAG 89-81; OAG 91-58. Thus, in a series of opinions we have held that "[b]lanket requests for information on a particular subject

without specifying certain documents need not be honored." OAG 76-375; OAG 83-386; OAG 85-88; OAG 89-8; OAG 89-61; OAG 91-58. Elaborating on this position, in OAG 89-8, at p. 2, we observed:


The Open Records Act provides in part in KRS 61.872(1) that all public records, with certain exceptions, shall be open for public inspection. While persons will obviously acquire information from these records, the primary purpose of the Act is making records available for public inspection. The Act does not require a public agency to provide information beyond that which is made available from permitting access to the public documents. Thus, if the agency is to provide access to public documents the person seeking to inspect those documents must identify them with sufficient clarity to enable the public agency to locate and make them available.


If a requester cannot describe the documents he wishes to inspect with sufficient specificity there is no requirement that the public agency conduct a search for such material. OAG 84-342; OAG 89-8.


In OAG 85-88 this Office expressly recognized that the failure of an inmate to identify specific documents in his institutional file precluded release of the documents in the file. Citing OAG 79-547 we emphasized that the purpose of the Open Records Act is not to provide information but to provide access to public records which are not exempt by law. OAG 85-88, at p. 2. At p. 3 of that opinion we analogized an inmate's institutional file to a personnel file, insofar as both contain exempt and nonexempt documents, holding that a request to inspect an institutional file, like a request to inspect personnel files, "must specify the particular documents within such file to be inspected." See also, OAG 91-58.


In our view, Mr. Atkins request is couched in sufficiently specific term to permit the records custodian to determine what records it encompasses and whether those records are exempt. He identifies a particular type of document, to wit, institutional write-ups, for a period of time extending from April, 1981 to the present. His request cannot be characterized as a blanket request for information on a

particular subject. We therefore conclude that EKCC improperly denied his request. EKCC is directed to release the requested documents to Mr. Adkins forthwith.


EKCC may challenge this decision by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882. The Attorney General should be notified of any actions initiated in the circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), but should not be named as a party in these actions or in any subsequent proceedings.














Distributed to:


Ms. Martha Prater

Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex

West Liberty, KY 41472


Mr. Edwin Adkins, #85436

Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex

P. O. Box 636

West Liberty, KY 41472