Sept. 5, 2013

Using Illinois' Freedom of Information Act: A Brief Overview

by George Peter Jr (author's profile)


Using Illinois' Freedom of Information Act
A Brief Overview

Like any large bureaucracy, the Illinois Department of Corrections is governed and regulated by an extensive amount of rules and regulations which cover most every facet of prison life. In order to ensure that the Department affords you all the rights and privileges a prisoner is entitled to, I have written the following explanation of Illinois' Freedom of Information Act (F.O.I.A.), and how to use it to your benefit.

The purpose of the F.O.I.A. is to provide transparency to the operations of state government. This allows the average individual - prisoners included - to see how state agencies function, how they develop their rules, and how they are intended to be implemented.

Recent changes in Illinois law (Public Act 96-0542) have streamlined the document procurement process, and made it much more user friendly. The major improvements were

1. Cost. The first 50 pages of a request are free, and additional pages cannot cost more than 15 cents per page.

2. Consequences for late responses. If no response is made within five business days, officials may no longer refuse the request on the grounds that it is burdensome.

To begin the process of learning how to use the F.O.I.A., there are several documents which I would highly recommend that you obtain. They are:

1. From the Attorney General's Office:

Illinois F.O.I.A. Act
Frequently Asked Questions by the Public

This is a 12 page document which explains the entire process for obtaining public records.

2. From the Department of Corrections:

Freedom of Information Act
Records Immediately Available for Release

This document identifies a broad array of documents which are immediately available for release.

Index of Department Rules and Administrative Directives.

The index will direct the reader to the specific rule(s) which relate to the issue being researched. For example; if you are attempting to investigate the procedure for restoration of good conduct credits, you would request a copy of A.D. 01.07.550, Calculations, Records, Restoration Process.

To assist you in this endeavor, I have prepared sample letters to obtain these documents; they follow this paper.

My next article will provide the reader with a step-by-step analysis of how the F.O.I.A. provided me with the information necessary to successfully challenge the censorship policies of the prison system.


Office of the Attorney General
%F.O.I.A. Officer
500 S. Second Street
Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Sir or Madam:

In accordance with the F.O.I.A., I wish to request a copy of the following publication:

Illinois Freedom of Information Act
Frequently Asked Questions by the Public

Thanking you in advance for your assistance with this request, I remain:


Reg. No.


Illinois Department of Corrections
%F.0.I.A. Officer
1301 Concordia Court
P.O. Box 19277
Springfield, IL 62794-9277

Dear Sir or Madam:

In accordance with the F.O.I.A., I wish to request a copy of the following documents that are available from your office:

1. Freedom of Information Act
Records Immediately Available for Release

2. Index of Department Rule and Administrative Directives

Thanking you in advance for your assistence with this request, I remain:


Reg. No.


Replies (19) Replies feed

CK Posted 8 years, 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
Dear George, the Peace & Justice Network of San Joaquin County has received your generous donation. I also contributing your letter to Connections and we will publish your blog site address. Thank you very much.

Christie Kelley for PJN, San Joaquin County

Calhoun25 Posted 8 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
Thanks! This stuff helps keep Illinois citizens active in their communities and elections. Wonder if they've passed this Freedom of Information Act, or legislation similar to it, in other states. Keep writing!

George Peter Jr Posted 8 years, 4 months ago.   Favorite
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Calhoun25 Posted 8 years, 4 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years, 4 months ago   Favorite
Hmmm, sounds like the Department of Corrections is not paying much attention to us citizens! (Where have we seen this in history?) Unfortunately, I don't have much pratical experience with governmental agencies. I would guess building up public support might help, or just repeatedly contacting the Department's appeal center (if that's a thing). Perhaps, if you can, try scheduling a face-to-face meeting with a Department agent? Maybe he or she will be won over by your sincerity. Anyway, hopefully fellow BtB commentors will have more helpful suggestions. Hang in there, brother! In the meantime, try reading legal and political philosophy for fun (if you can); people tend to enjoy Plato, Locke, Rousseau, &c. (if you haven't heard of them already). Can't wait to read your next posts!

George Peter Jr Posted 8 years, 3 months ago.   Favorite
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Calhoun25 Posted 8 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years, 2 months ago   Favorite
Hey George!
It’s great to talk to others about these sorts of things! I think you’re spot-on about Plato. His idea of morally perfect rulers does sound very nice on paper; yet I agree that it is very difficult, if not impossible to implement. In general, I often worry about apparent tensions between political philosophy and practicality. At least political philosophy can help stimulate the mind and bring pleasure.
That said, today I read an article dealing with happiness. Apparently, most people who are happy exemplify several qualities: 1) they have significant others, with whom they share life; 2) they have found spiritual or religious meaning in life; 3) they have been through character-building hardship. They do not necessarily have a lot of money or goods; although poorer countries rank the lowest in happiness (such as nations where starvation is prevalent. This makes sense.). The biggest causes of unhappiness, according to the article, include comparing oneself to others and holding onto resentment. I’ve definitely seen these data reflected in those I’ve met: the happiest people I know practice it like a skill or disposition, and don’t care at all for money but rather for others.
For personal morals, I like to turn to the Bible and Kierkegaard: the former teaches me how to live, the latter applies Biblical maxims to modern life. Some of my most important moral influences come from personal experience, and from people whom I meet: my mom, my BtB friends, leaders in my community, &c. I think wisdom comes mostly from life experiences; and who better know, than those who have been through so much? I remember accepting and even agreeing with moral maxims when little: enjoy what you already have; find happiness in community; be careful of pride; &c. Yet I never really understood them, until I had some first-hand experience which validated their advice; or until some experienced person had explained them with clarity and analogy to me. I’ll definitely check out Gautama! I’ve read Machiavelli before, and it’s definitely spine-tingling to see someone so far back in history, track modern events with his advice.
Your report on Illinois’ prison system is alarming!! States seem to collect much tax money, but I’m no expert on it. I would hope they figure some way to meet all of our needs adequately. Also, I’ve been noticing the problems you report, are becoming discussed more and more as one of this generation’s biggest problems. (I hope I am discerning correctly.) Hopefully this dialogue will lead to action. Maybe it will soon become salient enough, to be a presidential race issue! It all starts on this local level; keep up your labors George! I can try bringing up your struggles in class this quarter, since this quarter deals with oppression and resistance in society (think Du Bois, Beauvoir, &c.). Can’t wait until your next article comes out, if it has not already! Peace, brother!
Until next time,

George Peter Jr Posted 8 years, 1 month ago.   Favorite
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Rita Posted 8 years, 1 month ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years ago   Favorite
hey George,

what brings you happiness?

I read your answer to your friend. I didn't read my name...
It's been so very long I heard from you. Your latest letter dated from the 7th of April.
That is a long long time. Why?

I will call your dad tonight.

Miss you....

xoxox Rita

Rita Posted 6 years, 7 months ago. ✓ Mailed 6 years, 7 months ago   Favorite
hello dearest George,

Normally you'll get this reply by November 16th,it says here.That is for tomorrow then. Tell me if you did, ok?! :)))
I gave some other responses on this very blog. Don't know where they went???
Also on the other one. I look out where you possibly answered? But I can't see it...
The stress on my head, shoulders, back is more or less gone.For the foot with the painful pinches I still wait for my MRI on December 9th.I will call 2 other clinics and see of I get another sooner appointment?
I know you thought of me when seeing the terrible attack in Paris!!!I was with a new friend,Ria on Friday 13th...
A young Japanese man from Paris was having a night at hers.He lives in that neighborhood.

Love,sweet kisses!xxx
your Rita

Calhoun25 Posted 5 years, 12 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Hey George!
I hope everything has been relatively restful for your 2016. I've been thinking about your description of the shakedowns. Sometimes when people are in an authoritative position, they rationalize unjust treatment under the guise of "necessary to discharging one's duties". They should not treat your belongings so (deliberately?) without care. To be fair, it is a very natural inclination. Some school teachers are unfairly harsh on their students, but think it justified because the only way to teach them. A healthy dose of patience, understanding, and peace can fix these situations up. In fact, I think this dose would go a long way in fixing broken marriages! Sometimes I wonder whether we treat strangers better than those we know by day-to-day interaction.

Now about the politics. I am sure you heard about Brexit! David Cameron is no longer the prime minister; the EU referendum was in effect a vote of no confidence. Based upon the little I know, I judge there will be negative economic consequences, both in and out of Britain. Supporters of Brexit would likely contend that (1) there are benefits of increased sovereignty and border control; and that (2) these outweigh the negative economic costs. If you learn anything more about Brexit, let me know!

I hope you find another kitten as companion. Sometimes I think dogs and cats understand one's feelings better than other people! I've never owned a cat or dog, but it might be something I look into later on. Some breeds require a lot of space and attention; others are more low-key and low-maintenance. I have had some pet birds, though. They were pretty cute and uplifting. My parents had this one bird called "Sky". It was a smart and adventurous one! It would come to the table for breakfast, and eat foods such as eggs and spaghetti. One day it got too smart, and flew away when my dad was trying to clip its wings. I hope Sky lived the rest of its days out in that light-blue expanse above our heads. Let us believe that there is a Heaven for pets!

Lastly, I wanted to let you know that my friend has an internship this summer at the Cook County jail. He is studying psychology, and so will be working with inmates in this direction. He told me that Cook County is America's largest mental health facility! He is especially motivated in tending to the mentally sick because of his Christian love. He said he was praying to find a good internship that combines his passions for mental health and community with others: I am overjoyed he was granted just that. I don't know if they have any mental health facilities where you are at, but I believe they can be very helpful if done properly. I know many college campi encourage their students to seek mental help if they need it. There is often a stigma about seeking this help, and many times for good reason. However, it seems the benefits of getting cured outweigh those costs in the long run. I don't know; maybe I'm just crazy! (Pun intended)

Calhoun25 Posted 5 years, 12 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Alright, keep doing what you're doing George! Keep studying and thinking about what you can -- it makes for a brighter and more full human person. If you can, let me know what's going on. Take care now.

Rita Posted 5 years, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
hi George,

I wondered if you'll read this? And if you still are in segregation? Our visits were so short- you were cuffed... cuffs of 'injustice' :(( I came from that far... to see you that little as 4 hours, behind glass... Is that the way America treats his sons, I wrote to Jessica. I remembered her of your position, George. Just in case!
Only for having a socialistic activism Newsletter in your possession! One you got all the time in the past.
Is that called wrong doing? Who should be punished,I ask you?
And you couldn't even warn me before I came to visit. Can wardens go ahead and just go away with it?!
I hope you were able to call your dad? I will give him a call tomorrow to know what Internal Affairs decided.
My real hope is that you are out by now... , but I fear it's not yet the end.
Gera knows by now. Just terrible,she wrote! No words for it, my love.
I will send more letters just to cheer you up in these hard times, George. :))
Take very well care of yourself, and remember always that I am there to care for you.
For you: 'The mind who believes immovably in a far,and beautiful goal,is able to keep the vital strength who leads him trough daily life.'- Gustav Stresemann.

Your sweetie, Rita xxx

George Peter Jr Posted 5 years, 10 months ago.   Favorite
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Calhoun25 Posted 5 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
Hey George,
First, about the brunch program. I read your article entitled, “First Amendment under Attack in Illinois’ Prisons: the Price of Dissent”. The brunch program appears to have been an instance of law inadequately and unequally applied. It is frustrating, to say the least, when great effort is expended at the legislative level, only to have it stymied during application. We all hear a lot about such-and-such federal law being passed, only for state or local governments to qualify their application. At the same time, this is part of the valuable system of checks and balances. It helps block unjust laws from being fully executed, just as much as it can frustrate the application of good laws. Hopefully there is a way to mitigate the worst instances of these problems, while maintaining the associated benefits. Anyway, kudos for getting tuna and fresh apples on the menu. A hearty fish meal and sweet fruit for dessert probably brightened the day for many inmates. At any rate, the brunch program is no more.
I pray your French has opportunity to grow and flourish. Learning another language is exciting, freeing, and intellectually stimulating. I know only a handful about Belgium: the capital is Brussels; Antwerp is one of its famous cities; the flag is blazoned black, yellow, and red; they were invaded during WWI, during which King Albert served on the front lines; and they are evidently famous for waffles and chocolate. Perhaps you can teach us a bit more about the place.
I can’t believe you got segregation for a magazine you don’t particularly care about, delivered without your particular consent. Can you have it so that you must approve and sign before receiving any mail? Since you are so deprived for six months, you could fill the gaps with your own creations. Maybe come up with a set of opposing arguments on major policy issues (abortion, taxes, immigration, foreign policy, guns, &c.), and commit them to memory. (If you have access to pencil and paper, even better.) It’s stimulating to set up an argument, and then an opposing argument. A mental game of chess. Perhaps at the end of such dialectic, you’ll have some interesting things to write about.
Here’s an interesting observation I’ve made: for many major policy questions, you can divide the question into a legal and moral component. To wit, “To what extent does this issue deal with government and law?”; “To the extent that this issue does deal with government and law, what should the government’s stance toward it be?”; and “Is there a related moral question about personal behavior? If so, what should a person in a situation involving e.g. abortion or drugs do?”

Calhoun25 Posted 5 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
Also, you could reread your books, this time adding commentary in the margins. Turn the books, if you can, into a “director’s cut” commentated by George Peter Jr. I had a teacher in high school who averred that writing margin notes is an art. They need to be pithy – terse but informative. If you can’t write in the margins, but have a paper and pencil instead, that would do as well. You might even compose an official commentary for each book you have, adding your two cents where you want – your critique and support – as well as elucidations, summarizations, interpretations, and anecdotes for your readers. Perhaps you can post these commentaries online later this year.
I think your analysis of the EU is spot-on. We’re still waiting to see exactly what will happen. Your comments on the American campaign are interesting as well. It’s difficult for those unemployed due to exporting jobs. Still, it seems like globalization and free trade are the better choice in the long run. Similarly, many horse carriage producers went out of business due to the widespread use of automobiles. In the short run, there was much pain; in the long run, it was better for society to decide on automobiles. “Creative destruction”, as they call it. I’m not suggesting consequences and utility are the only criteria for judging the worth of a policy decision. Still, they can often play a significant role. I actually learned the other day that the government funds college education, trade school education, and other programs to help displaced workers find employment, after they lost their jobs to foreign workers. I had no idea there were policies to abate the short term damages of globalization. I wish they were better advertised, promoted, and extended.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I pray your segregation will pass by quickly. To help you out, I attach an article by the famous theologian Thomas Aquinas on property. I hope it’s invigorating intellectually. Take care now.

Calhoun25 Posted 5 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
Article 1. Whether it is natural for man to possess external things?
Objection 1. It would seem that it is not natural for man to possess external things. For no man should ascribe to himself that which is God's. Now the dominion over all creatures is proper to God, according to Psalm 23:1, "The earth is the Lord's," etc. Therefore it is not natural for man to possess external things.
Objection 2. Further, Basil in expounding the words of the rich man (Luke 12:18), "I will gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods," says [Hom. in Luc. xii, 18]: "Tell me: which are thine? where did you take them from and bring them into being?" Now whatever man possesses naturally, he can fittingly call his own. Therefore man does not naturally possess external things.
Objection 3. Further, according to Ambrose (De Trin. i [De Fide, ad Gratianum, i, 1) "dominion denotes power." But man has no power over external things, since he can work no change in their nature. Therefore the possession of external things is not natural to man.
On the contrary, It is written (Psalm 8:8): "Thou hast subjected all things under his feet."
I answer that, External things can be considered in two ways. First, as regards their nature, and this is not subject to the power of man, but only to the power of God Whose mere will all things obey. Secondly, as regards their use, and in this way, man has a natural dominion over external things, because, by his reason and will, he is able to use them for his own profit, as they were made on his account: for the imperfect is always for the sake of the perfect, as stated above (Question 64, Article 1). It is by this argument that the Philosopher proves (Polit. i, 3) that the possession of external things is natural to man. Moreover, this natural dominion of man over other creatures, which is competent to man in respect of his reason wherein God's image resides, is shown forth in man's creation (Genesis 1:26) by the words: "Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea," etc.
Reply to Objection 1. God has sovereign dominion over all things: and He, according to His providence, directed certain things to the sustenance of man's body. For this reason man has a natural dominion over things, as regards the power to make use of them.
Reply to Objection 2. The rich man is reproved for deeming external things to belong to him principally, as though he had not received them from another, namely from God.
Reply to Objection 3. This argument considers the dominion over external things as regards their nature. Such a dominion belongs to God alone, as stated above.

Rita Posted 5 years, 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
hello George,

I hope to hear from you pretty soon 'here' too, on internet. I got your marvelous lengthy letter!!Thanks a LOT!!!
The next day I got as a present 8! paintings and drawings from Joshua!!Do I all deserve this, I asked myself?! :))
Two friends, two care- packages; how fortunate I feel. :o
I was very moved by Joshua's paintings, I tell you!So was I, by your letter, George!:)
Lots of things happened here.How many presents one gets every dag!:o Sometimes I'm so amazed by it, sweetie.
Today at 2:30 I meet Leen (say: Lane)and she is a recent friend(again!) from the open door days we got in our spiritual center in Antwerp(en) not too long ago.She will stop working and is younger then me.We met at an activity in a specific workshop called:'The only one you need,is yourself'. To trust yourself... and the cooperation with others will benefit from it.
So, I am curious to see her anew.
Yesterday I had this date with Robert,my 'young' Algerian friend.:)
On the train towards Bruges, 'Brugge'(called Venice of the North) I was seated next to a Spanish talking man, Ivan.I just told him there was an empty seat for his son Javier, 6yrs.He heard I spoke Spanish and we had a nice talk.You know me!;)
His wife Noe(mi)and their son sat somewhat further. Ivan came to work in Antwerp for about 4 months.In the rafinaderies at our port.While his wife(48)was an ARGENTINIAN!They lived both in Galicia, Spain. How special that was!
We had a real nice talk and they were planning to see Brugge.But would be lost there!I told Ivan I was born there!And would see my date. He proposed me to be their guide.
Robert had problems with his train and would arrive a little later,( my gsm(cellphone) came in handy), while we ate a snack in the waiting for him.
We took all off together and the nicest city(!)from BE, always has still 'more' surprises fro me!
It just was a Sunday without cars. Bicycles were promoted all over the Grand Place (Marketplace)and I took so many wonderful pictures!!!
It was like we all knew each other for a very long time.:)
It was such a beautiful warm and pleasant day; with music and concerts and groups of djembé and guitar players, etc
Here and there there were dancers on squares: salsa, tango,and Noe and me can't even dance tango!But yes, salsa; Javier did break dance, ha ha.
Forgot Ivan's colleague, José; they liked the many beers in my country!More then 400 species!They even visited the Beer Museum! There was an exhibition from Salvator Dali, etc Lace and chocolat shops, waffles stands, french fries booths, you name it!
I told you; Obama once said: 'BE is dangerous... for its food!' :)

Well, Ivan will call me. We plan to go in our group to G(h)ent as well, Middle age city.Gorgeous city!!!You can see it in your book!

xxx from your Rita! :)))

George Peter Jr Posted 5 years, 8 months ago.   Favorite
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Rita Posted 5 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
hi dearest George,

I wrote another email on your blog. I never received any answer on it. Your two lost letters finally came here on March 14th. They came together and did 22 days and 33 days over it! At least now I'm realizing you were sick! What was it,a flew? I am so sorry to hear this! :(( Here the flew is out of our country. I took an injection to not to have it, or only in a milder form.
Today came a large envelope from the mail room at yours.It contained my sent chess book, my photo and a DVD. It said: 'Item not permitted'. I guess it was for the DVD? But that DVD I never sent!It's not mine! Is this a trap? To not to deliver your book?! Can you receive a rather small hard covered book in a yellow envelope? I guess you can?
I paid a lot to send it and now it's back, plus an unknown DVD... :(

I never got the name and address to direct myself to ask for the visiting time.I asked it several times, George. Now I've to go by different choices to contact a person at the phone of the prison. It was not that easy. I will write a letter- it's about time!- to a Mrs Deana Medford. I only hope she's the right person to write to!?
Maybe tomorrow there's a letter from you that tells me the person to write to? Because I am not too sure.:(

much love, Rita x

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