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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a public record?

A "public record" includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by the Department regardless of physical form or characteristics (RCW 42.56.010 , WAC 137-08-020 ).

Is there any information I can get without a public records request?

The Inmate Search service provides selected information about inmates currently incarcerated in a Department facility such as a) inmate name, b) inmate DOC number, and c) facility where the inmate is currently incarcerated.

Additional information about inmates currently under the jurisdiction of the Department (in a facility, or under supervision in the community) can be provided without a public records request. Go to the Search Resources page for a list of what can be provided. You may contact DOC Headquarters for this information

What types of records can I get through a public records request?

Click one of the topic links below for a list of some of the most commonly requested documents and how to obtain them. If you are interested in a record that is not listed you may contact us prior to submitting your request to verify that the Department has the records you want.

Administrative Records
Directory of Staff & Offices

Department organization chart and contacts.

Forms

Record various types of information. Some forms are for public use and others are for internal use only.

How to Obtain

Go to the Publications webpage for public use forms, and submit a Public Records Request for internal use forms.

Policies

Published rules and guidelines for compliance with the overall goals of the Department.

How to Obtain

Go to the DOC Policies webpage.

Publications

Brochures, posters, informational guides, catalogs, guidebooks, handbooks, manuals, annual and biennial reports, special reports, newsletters, periodicals, pamphlets, and other printed material intended for general dissemination to the public or the Legislature.

How to Obtain

Go to the Publications webpage for currently available publications.

Inmate Records

Some information about inmates can be provided without a public records request.

Central File

Legal, movement, classification, progress, intake and release information maintained on inmates under the jurisdiction and committed to the custody of a department facility.

How to Obtain

Public Records Request

Field File

Supervision information for inmates under department supervision.

How to Obtain

Public Records Request

Health Record

Inmate healthcare information, including physical, dental and mental health care records.

How to Obtain

These records are CONFIDENTIAL unless the inmate approves release. See the Public Records Request submission page for more information.

Chemical Dependency File

Chemical dependency diagnosis, treatment and discharge information.

How to Obtain

These records are CONFIDENTIAL unless the inmate approves release. See the Public Records Request submission page for more information.

OMNI File

Project plans and documents relating to developing and testing the Offender Management Network Information project.

How to Obtain

Public Records Request

End of Sentence Review File

Information relating to release of kidnap/sex offenders.

How to Obtain

Much of the information in these records is CONFIDENTIAL. contact us with questions.

Personnel Records
Employee Handbook

General employment information.

How to Obtain

Public Records Request

Personnel FIles

Employment-related information for department employees.

How to Obtain

Public Records Request

Payroll Files

Salary and benefits related information for department employees.

How to Obtain

Public Records Request

What is an exemption?

Exemptions are intended to restrict disclosure of records, generally to prevent invasion of privacy (RCW 42.56.230 ) and the use of public records for personal, commercial (RCW 42.56.070(9) ), or political gain. The Public Records Act provides for the following exemptions:

WAC 137-08-150 Exemptions to public records disclosure lists further Department exemptions, and additional applicable RCWs to exemptions provided for in the Public Records Act. Some of these include:

  • Data contained in intelligence, investigative, and other related files compiled to discipline members of any profession. (RCW 42.56.240 , RCW 10.97.080 , WAC 446-20 )
  • Certain juvenile justice or juvenile care records (RCW 13.50 )
  • Records which are relevant to a controversy to which the Department is a party but which records would not be available to another party under the rules of pretrial discovery for causes pending in the superior courts, including records involving attorney-client communications between the Department and the Office of the Attorney General privileged under RCW 5.60.060

For a full list of exemptions that have been cited in the denial of public records requests at the Department of Corrections (DOC), please see the DOC Exemption LogAdobe PDF File (RCW 42.56.070(2) ).

Who can submit a public records request?

Any person may make a Public Records Request for agency records. RCW 42.56.080 provides that agencies may not distinguish between requesters and must make records available to "any person."

The Public Records Act recognizes that other statutes may limit which persons may receive records. For example, an agency may need to determine whether a requester is authorized to receive requested health care records (RCW 70.02.030 ). Also, a court order, such as an injuction barring an inmate or sexually violent predator from receiving a record (RCW 42.56.565 , RCW 71.09.120(3) ). Therefore, depending on the records requested and the laws that govern those records, sometimes an agency may consider the identity of a requestor or need more information from a requestor.

Do I have to give a reason for my request?

A person making a public records request is not required to give a reason unless the request is for lists of individuals. Dawson v. Daly (1993); Yacobellis v. City of Bellingham (1992).

How much does it cost?

The copy fee is 15 cents per page, plus postage (RCW 42.56.070(8) ). Payment must be received before records will be mailed to the requestor. A deposit may be required in an amount not to exceed ten percent of the estimated cost of providing copies for a request (RCW 42.56.120 ).

Per RCW 70.02.030(2) , a health care provider or health care facility may charge a reasonable fee for providing health care information and is not required to honor an authorization until the fee is paid. WAC 246-08-400 details how much a health care provider may charge for searching and duplicating health care records.

What if I no longer need the requested documents?

If you have made a public records request and no longer need the documents please contact us so that taxpayer money and staff time are not spent on requests that will not be claimed.

What if I disagree with the processing of my request?

If you disagree with the Department's decision to deny your public record request, in whole or in part, you may petition for review.

What if I don't think I've been given a "reasonable estimate of time" for response to my records request?

If you believe the Department has not made a reasonable estimate of time required to respond to a public record request, you may petition for judicial review.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the public records process, please contact us.