Prison Inmate Psych Evaluations Found in Gas Station Dumpster

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A box with confidential files, including psychological evaluations of several prisoners from the California Men’s Colony (CMC) were found in a dumpster at a Shell gas station in San Luis Obispo.

Cal Coast News reports that the documents were labeled Board of Prison Term and were discovered by a homeless couple looking for recyclables.

They contained the personal information, Social Security numbers, criminal history, psych evaluations, behavior reports and even details about the personal relationships of eight CMC inmates.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation immediately launched an investigation into the data breach, as ,ost of this information is protected under the Privacy Act.

CMC workers are required to shred records before disposing of them, so the leak was also treated as a possible violation of internal policy.

The Department eventually established that those particular files were given to a local attorney named Peter Ferguson.

Ferguson represented or had to represent the prisoners at their parole hearings before the California Board of Prison Terms.

When contacted, the lawyer said that his wife cleaned the car recently and probably threw them out accidentally.

However, this doesn’t explain why he failed to notice that such important documents were missing. According to the California State Bar code, attorneys have the duty to protect the confidence and secrets of their clients.

Ensuring the secure disposal of confidential files by shredding or other means is extremely important, but unfortunately, even government institutions sometimes fail to do it properly.

According to a 2009 report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), who’s workers inspected trash dumpsters at several IRS offices, the service failed to properly protect taxpayer information.

At every location we visited, we found documents containing PII or other Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information in regular waste containers and/or dumpsters,” TIGTA concluded at the time.



2 thoughts on “Prison Inmate Psych Evaluations Found in Gas Station Dumpster

  1. I wonder if the eight inmates were notified of this breach?
    The atty’s wife cleans the car at the gas station? And she washes her own car? He must not be very successful, if she can’t take it to the corner car wash. Or like all the doctors and attys I know, have someone come to the office or home and wash the car.
    Wonder if they are newlyweds and that’s why she doesn’t know how important and confidential those records are?
    I wonder what, if any penalty there is for something like this?
    Does anyone know if the flash drive with visitors info that was lost at SQ or Folsom (can’t remember which) a few years ago was ever found?
    Just wondering out loud, or should I say in writing.


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