Public Records Act
The Public Records Act provides the people with broad rights of access to public records. The purpose of the act is to allow people to be informed about governmental decisions and therefore help keep government accountable (WAC 44-14-01003 ). The act declares that it must be "liberally construed" to promote the public policy of open government (RCW 42.56.030 ).
See the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) webpage for more information.
Public Record Request
All requests for public records from the Department of Corrections (DOC) must be submitted to the DOC's Public Records Officer (RCW 42.56.580 ). A DOC Public Records Coordinator (WAC 137-08-080 ) will respond to each request within 5 business days of receiving the request (RCW 42.56.520 )
Submit Public Records Request (WAC 137-08-090 )
General questions do not require a public record request. Additionally, the Department of Corrections (DOC) can provide some information about incarcerated and formally incarcerated person(s) without a public records request. You may contact DOC Headquarters for this information, or with general questions.
All requests for public records, other than requests by inmates currently incarcerated by the Department for inspection of their health records or central file, must be submitted in writing to DOC Public Records Officer. Each request should include:
Inmates under the authority of the Department shall submit requests to inspect their own health record or central file to the records manager at the facility in which they are currently incarcerated.
- (a) The name of the person requesting the record and their contact information,
- (b) The calendar date on which the request is made, and
- (c) The records requested
Department of Corrections
Public Records Office
PO BOX 41118
Olympia, WA 98504-1118
Inmate Patient Health & Chemical Dependency Records
If your public records request(s) will include patient health and/or chemical dependency records, you will need to submit additional release forms.
The appropriate release forms must be filled out completely, signed and dated by the patient.
Chemical Dependency Records
Review of Agency Denial
Record requests are only denied if the records requested are exempt. Every denial must include a statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld (RCW 42.56.210 ). If you disagree with this denial, you are have two options:
Attorney General Review
Per RCW 42.56.530 , whenever a state agency concludes that a public record is exempt from disclosure and denies a person opportunity to inspect or copy a public record for that reason, the person may request the attorney general to review the matter. The attorney general shall provide the person with his or her written opinion on whether the record is exempt.
Per RCW 42.56.550 , you may pursue judicial review by the superior court in the county in which the record is maintained when:
- You've been denied an opportunity to inspect or copy a public record by an agency.
- You believe that an agency has not made a reasonable estimate of time that the agency requires to response to a public record request.
Agencies must internally review all denials and reviews shall be deemed completed at the end of the second business day following the denial of inspection, and shall constitute final agency action for the purposes of judicial review (RCW 42.56.520 ). Judicial reviews must be filed within one year of the agency's claim of exemption or the last production of a record on a partial or installment basis.